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Bye Bye Birdies: Remembering a Wabash Tradition

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

In the spring of 1966, the Wabash Park committee and the women of the WI joined forces to plan a summer chicken barbecue as a fundraiser to help meet park expenses of insurance and lawn care. The project would replace the old field day in the park, and inaugurated a tradition that would last 54 years! Every family would be asked to donate toward the meal.The main item, the chicken, was to be cooked outdoors with the men in charge, John Hunter contributed a secret barbecue recipe that never changed over five decades. Other main menu items were baked beans, trusted to such fine cooks as Mae (Mrs. Ralph) Brown; baked potatoes chosen with care; potato salad; cole slaw, supervised by Frances Mrs. Carmen) Blakeley, and later, Marianna (Mrs. Allan) Badder; sweet corn dipped in butter; sliced tomatoes ripened just in time; fresh rolls (later sesame bread from Burns') and of course hot and cold beverages, and homemade cupcakes. The crowds can from near and far, and even the province-wide blackout of 2003, which struck just as the event got underway, did not phase barbecue organizers or slow down the feeding of hungry customers. But this spring, the secret recipe is back in the vault, and the grand tradition of the Wabash Chicken Barbecue will be missed! What will Wabash think of next?

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