Massive St. Martin Parish Picnic Took Days


The annual St. Martin Parish Picnic is important.

You would think that after 123 years, an event like the picnic would become obsolete.

But this fundraiser for the parish continues to create excitement in the community.

Organizers expected to serve about 3,000 fried chicken and roast beef dinners. People looking for dinner were encouraged to take out, if space in the air-conditioned gymnasium filled up.

Mike Southard, past picnic chair, said the volunteers continue to do the Lord’s work at the picnic. He said it takes days to prepare for such a massive effort.

“The guys started making roast beef on Friday,” Southard said.

On Saturday, volunteers set up about 10,000 square feet of awnings, under which attendees (from outside) could escape the sun.

And on Sunday, the “Golden Chicken-Frying Team” began working on the picnic’s trademark – its fried chicken.

“That’s probably the hardest job,” Southard said. “That and the parking cars.”

With all the games, turtle races, kiddie rides, bingo, auctions, dinners, crafts, a beer garden and two bands, it was a full schedule from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday , did he declare.

“It’s for our parish and our church,” he said. “It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year. And it goes to our school – to pay the educators.”

Catholic communities in central Missouri support each other, he said. They will come from their homes in Taos, Wardsville and elsewhere to enjoy the picnic in St. Martins.

But, the people of St. Martins reciprocate and attend their events as well, Southard said.

“We support each other. The Taos picnic was a few weeks ago,” he added. “We’re trying to help each other out. It’s fun to see this all fall into place.”

There are a lot of young carers involved in the picnic, he said.

Korbin Fisher, an 18-year-old senior at Helias, volunteers to help with the picnic each year, he said. He’s been working at the picnic for as long as he can remember.

“I’m just Mike’s right-hand man today. He’s the brains, I’m the muscle,” Fisher said. “Today I’m going to do it all day.”

There’s a place in the picnic where Rod Rackers stands next to a little green engine that runs all day. It’s a popular place. This is where homemade ice cream is brewed.

The 1927 John Deere E-series 1.5-horsepower Hit and Miss engine spins and spins and misses every four to five seconds, Rackers explained. The motor is hooked to an ice cream churn and produces about five gallons at a time.

“It takes 45 minutes to an hour to make a batch,” Rackers said. “We’re going to pass close to 100 gallons. We can’t keep up. We did some yesterday.”

In the past, being mobile, the engine could be used for a number of different tasks on a farm. Farmers could use it to pump water from wells in the morning and use it to grind food later.

“I even spoke to a guy running a sheep shear with one of them,” Rackers said.

There are all kinds of uses for motors, he said.

Elsewhere, adults were riding children on a makeshift train – a subcompact tractor pulling a chain of barrels (containing seats) on carts. Elsewhere, live music played, turtles raced and children bounced on an inflatable slide.

“It’s amazing,” said Father Jason Doke, pastor of St. Martin’s Catholic Church. “This is a great opportunity for the parish to come together as a community.”

It takes a lot of work to put together something like the St. Martin Parish Picnic, he said.

“And not every parish can do that anymore,” said Doke, who has been with the parish for about two years. “I’m proud to be here, to be part of this community. Because we’re starting to embody what it means to be hospitable – to cook a meal and invite people over. Show them what our mission here is. And celebrate who we are as a parish.


Several hundred people sat in the gymnasium, enjoying the popular fried chicken and roast beef at the St. Martin’s Parish picnic on Sunday, July 10.




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Rod Rackers points out the working mechanisms of a 1927 John Deere E-Series 1.5 horsepower Hit and Miss engine at the St. Martin Parish Picnic Sunday, July 10.




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Amy Tyler (right) is as excited as the winners of a Sunday afternoon ring toss game at the St. Martin Parish Picnic on Sunday, July 10. Tyler collected the rings, distributed them to the participants and helped distribute their winnings.




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Theodore Porter, 2, performs in the Kiddie Korn attraction at the St. Martin Parish Picnic on Sunday, July 10. Theodore’s parents grew up in the community and enjoy the small town vibe.




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Theodore Porter, 2, performs in the Kiddie Korn attraction at the St. Martin Parish Picnic on Sunday, July 10. Theodore’s parents grew up in the community and enjoy the small town vibe.




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Ceron Moffatt holds his 11-month-old son Malakai Mofat as they wait to enter St. Martin’s Gymnasium for dinner at the St. Martin’s Parish Picnic on Sunday, July 10.




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Several hundred people sat in the gymnasium, enjoying the popular fried chicken and roast beef at the St. Martin’s Parish picnic on Sunday, July 10.



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