It's been 70 years since the first Tebbetts Community Picnic was held, and the small community has a few new activities up its sleeve just to keep things interesting. But the backbone of the event is still the same: local people and world-class mutton.
The picnic, also named Muttonfest after the event's main food, will be held Friday through Sunday with a score of activities, competitions, a 5K, live music, raffles, displays and home-cooked food. A classic and muscle car show will kick off the picnic at 5 p.m. Friday, and a Tebbetts mainstay — the Old Time Fiddler's contest — will bring it to a close, finishing at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Mutton is similar to pulled pork but made from sheep, community member Sam Richards said, and Tebbetts' version is so well-known that people travel from all over just to get a taste. Richards said the community takes pride in its mutton, carefully preparing it and using an exclusively-known sauce.
"We still cut the mutton the old way, just like they did when they first started the picnic," Richards said. "Far as we know, the recipe has been handed down time after time."
The food stand at the picnic, which will be open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, will also be serving fish, pork steaks, hamburger, cheeseburger, hot dogs, homemade potato chips, baked beans, cole slaw, pie, ice cream, funnel cakes and kettle corn. A beer stand, open 5-11:30 p.m. Friday and noon-11:30 p.m. Saturday, will also be available.
Several bands are scheduled to play live music at the picnic. Friday includes: Noble Springer, 5-6 p.m.; Cunningham Girls, 6-7 p.m.; Shades of Blues, 7:30-11:30 p.m; and a clogging group called Flat Footin' Follies will dance 5:30-6:30 p.m. One band, Prairie Moon, will play Saturday 7:30-11:30 p.m. Open air worship and gospel music is planned from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Sunday.
Richards said Tebbetts is bringing back several activities from years past, including a watermelon-eating contest, pie-eating contest and a kiddie tractor pull. There will also be turtle racing, face painting and a made-from-scratch fruit pie contest. Pies for the contest must be completely homemade and brought to the Tebbetts Community Center from noon-1:30 p.m. Saturday.
A 5K called Travel the Gravel is another addition to the picnic this year and will start on the Katy Trail and go around Tebbetts on gravel roads before circling back to the start. No registration is needed to run or walk, Richards said, it is only for fun and includes refreshments at the end.
The Trash-to-Treasure Flea Market and Crafts will be open at the picnic, and a South Callaway fire truck will be on display. A silent auction is planned with donated items from area businesses, including a flying tour for three people through the Jefferson City Flying Service. There will also be a gift card raffle, quilt raffle and a gun raffle.
Larry Languell, who manned the soda booth for the picnic as a teenager during its early years, will be running a Tebbetts Historical Society display at the event — showcasing several hand-built models of steamboats from the area's history.
"One thing that I love most about the picnic is meeting people that were around here — from far off now— and they come in for the picnic and they visit," Languell said. "I just love to see them again, you know, from all over the United States."
More information on the event and a complete schedule can be found at tebbetts.org.