This Saturday, the Wheaton Fire Department will host its 53rd annual barbecue in the Wheaton City Park. The event will offer barbecue meals, decadent desserts, an arts and crafts show, live musical entertainment and other activities.
"We have been ordering supplies for the barbecue," said Bob Lombard, Wheaton fire chief. "We have contracted with Tyson's for the chicken and all of our other supplies will be purchased locally at L&S Foods in Wheaton.
"On Tuesday night we began painting in the park," said Lombard. "We are getting everything spruced up for the barbecue. It's a big joint effort for our entire community."
Wheaton firefighters will light the barbecue grills at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The pits will be hot enough to begin smoking chickens by around 6:30 a.m. Barbecue meals will be served throughout the day beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase either a half chicken meal with a baked potato, baked beans, bread and coffee or milk or a barbecue pork sandwich with baked beans.
Dessert will be available at the fireman's ice cream booth or the Wheaton United Methodist Church's homemade pie booth.
"The fireman's ice cream booth was very successful last year," said Lombard. "We are increasing the amount of ice cream for this year's event. We ran out toward the end of the evening last year.
"We will offer more variety and flavors of ice cream," said Lombard. "The Methodist Church will also have homemade pie available all day. It's hard to find homemade pies at an event anymore and these are really good. They usually have over 100 pies."
An arts and crafts show will be held throughout the day. Free booth space will be available for vendors. Large tents will be set up to offer shade during the event. For more information, call 417-652-7359 or 417-652-3632.
The annual Spud McCracken Memorial Horseshoe Pitch will kick off at 11 a.m. This year's event will offer $200 in added money. For more information or to pre-register a two-man team for the tournament, call 835-3003.
"We always have a lot of good entertainment," said Lombard. "Musical performances will begin at 4 p.m."
The Flying Buzzards Bluegrass Band will perform at 4 p.m., and Barry County Connection will take the stage at 5 p.m. Wilderness Road will entertain audience members at 6 p.m., and Glory Bound will perform at 7 p.m.
"The duck race will be the main attraction at 8 p.m.," said Lombard. "We stop everything for that. The people line the water to watch the ducks race to the finish line. They really seem to enjoy the race."
Ducks will be sold at a booth in the park throughout the day. The following cash prizes will be awarded to the duck race winners: first place, $500; second place, $250; third place, $125; fourth place, $75; and fifth place, $50.
Edwina Tichenor will offer karaoke in the park after the duck race.
All proceeds from the annual barbecue celebration will benefit the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department. Funds will be used to purchase new firefighting equipment.
An all class reunion for Wheaton High School students who graduated during the 1960s will be held in conjunction with the Wheaton Barbecue. The come and go event will be held in the Wheaton Career Center, east of the high school, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"The building is air conditioned and handicap accessible," said Les Crider, who is organizing the event. "In the late afternoon, at around 4 p.m., there will be a short program to introduce the classes that are attending."
Community members interested in attending the event can register on Facebook. Search for the event "WHS 60's reunion."