TEBBETTS, Mo. — The tiny town of Tebbetts will hold its annual picnic and old time fiddler contest June 23-25.
But it's not just for Tebbetts residents.
"Oh heck no, it's totally open to the public," one of the organizers Sam Richards said.
While he's only been in charge of the event for the past few years, he's lived in the area since four years after the picnic began in 1951. Richards rarely misses it.
"I go for the neighbors, friends, family," he said. "It's the community involvement. Visiting with people is probably the favorite part."
Richards also enjoys the cooking. Mutton is the main attraction, but fish, hamburgers, hot dogs and pork steaks will also be sold, with homemade chips on the side and plenty of dessert options.
"You just don't get (mutton) everywhere," Richards said. "We feel like the mutton we have is one of the best, and like I said, it's a little unusual."
Aside from the food, the three-day fest also includes a flea market, car show, live music and the aforementioned contest. There will be plenty of kid-friendly activities as well. The Tebbetts History Museum will be open, displaying model steamboats built by Larry Languell.
"The fiddle contest, we hope for a good turnout," Richards said. "The average has been somewhere around 15-20 fiddlers."
He said there are multiple categories for adult and youth fiddlers.
In case of rain, there are shelters available, Richards added.
The Tebbetts picnic goes back a long time, but the history of Tebbetts reaches much further, according to resident and Middle River Memorial Cemetery Society President Faye Zumwalt.
"Perhaps the oldest known history of Tebbetts area was found by MoDOT when relocating a portion of Highway 94 about 4 miles west of Tebbetts near present Wainwright," Zumwalt said.
An ancient village of seven circular structures and 114 pits were uncovered, dated to about 800 B.C.E, she said. The buildings were built on sturdy posts and equipped with earth ovens.
"They were likely permanent homes, unusual for that period," Zumwalt added.
The next batch of settlers in the area were French traders, in 1808. They named the area "Cote San Dessein," meaning "hill without design."
"Cote Sans Dessein was considered a favorite in the decision of where to build Missouri's Capitol," Zumwalt said. "Because of unclear land titles Jefferson City won that honor instead."
But it was the MissouriKansasTexas Railroad that truly shaped the area when it passed through in the 1890s. The town takes its name from Louis Bates Tebbetts, a MKT stock owner and board member, Zumwalt said. Tebbetts got its own depot in 1893, which operated until 1963. The railroad officially shut down in 1988.
The MKT line in Missouri has now been partially converted to the Katy Trail, and Tebbetts hosts bicyclists and hikers on the trail at the Turner Katy Trail Rustic Shelter, Zumwalt said. Reservations can be made at 573-634-2322.
IF YOU GO
The Tebbetts Picnic runs June 23-25. Here is the full schedule of events:
Friday, June 23 serving food from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
5:30 p.m. Cunningham Sisters (fiddlers)
6:30 p.m. Muscle Car Show
7:30 10:30 p.m. Shades of Blue (country music)
Saturday, June 24 serving food 11a.m.-9 p.m.
12:30 p.m. Turtle races (you can bring your own or use one of ours)
2 p.m. Model A and Model T cars
4 p.m. the Cloggers
4 p.m. Register for the Fiddler Contest
57 p.m. The Polly Burre Memorial Old Time Fiddler Contest
7:30 p.m. 10:30 The Dogwood Project mix of country and blues music
Sunday, June 25 serving food from 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
10:30 p.m. Outdoor Worship Service
Noon 1 p.m. Gospel Music