Owensboro Ushers in Summer Series of Parish Barbecue Picnics

St. Mary Magdalene Parish to mark its 100th annual event


OWENSBORO, Ky. — Owensboro’s International Bar-B-Q Festival early each May is only the start of a summer of hickory-flavored festivities.


From May through the end of September, the area’s Catholic churches celebrate tradition and raise a bit of money, too, at 22 parish barbecue picnics that serve tasty chicken, pork, mutton and burgoo to all comers. All are within a 45-minute radius of downtown Owensboro.


“Travelers crave authentic food experiences, and there’s nothing more authentic than western Kentucky barbecue and burgoo prepared by an experienced church cooking team. They’re serious about their barbecue and burgoo,” said Shannon Wetzel, executive director of Visit Owensboro.


Burgoo, for the uninitiated, is a meaty stew that originated in pioneer days. Along with barbecue mutton, it is one of the region’s traditional foods.


You’ll see burgoo bubbling in 60-gallon cauldrons at parish picnics. Sometimes, there are half-dozen cauldrons in a row, each tended by stirrers who use long wooden paddles to keep the burgoo in motion.

“Some parish picnics are more elaborate than others, but you’ll often find cakewalks, kiddie rides, quilt raffles and other diversions to go along with all of that wonderful barbecue,” Wetzel said.


One is quite special – the June 27 picnic at St. Mary Magdalene Parish. It will be the parish’s 100th summer picnic. The St. Mary Magdelene cooking team has special bragging rights this year as winner of the Governor’s Cup at Owensboro’s International Bar-B-Q Festival.


Just seeing the meat on the fire is a spectacle. The cooking teams erect pits that can be 50 feet or more long and hold hundreds of chickens, along with dozens of pork butts and mutton quarters.


It’s easy to make a full weekend out of a parish picnic by combining it with Owensboro’s “Friday After 5,” a summer-long concert and family entertainment series. “Friday After 5” features many styles of music on five stages at RiverPark Center and in Smothers Park along the Ohio River.


Parish Picnic Schedule


May 24 – 11 a.m. St. Mary of the Woods, Whitesville

June 6 – 4 p.m. Precious Blood, Owensboro

June 13 – 4 p.m. St. Pius Tenth, Owensboro

June 20 – 3 p.m. Our Lady of Lourdes, Owensboro

June 27 – 4 p.m. St. Mary Magdalene, Sorgho (100th picnic)

July 4 – 11 a.m.-5 p.m. St. Denis, Fancy Farm

July 11 – 12:30-7:30 p.m. Immaculate Conception, Hawesville

July 11 – 4 p.m. St. Alphonsus, St. Joseph

July 18 – 4 p.m. St. Peter of Alcantara, Stanley

July 25 – 4 p.m. Blessed Mother, Owensboro

Aug. 1 – 11 a.m. St. Jerome, Fancy Farm

Aug. 1 – 12 Noon Blessed Sacrament, Owensboro

Aug. 4 – 5 p.m. St. Martin, Rome

Sept. 11-12 Holy Name Fall Festival, Henderson

Sept. 13 – 10:30 a.m. Mount St. Joseph, Maple Mount

Sept. 19 – 2-6 p.m. St. Stephen Cathedral, Owensboro

Sept. 19 – 4 p.m. Christ the King, Madisonville

Sept. 19 – 4 p.m. St. Columba, Lewisport

Sept. 20 – 11 a.m. St. Lawrence/St. William Parishes

Sept 26 – 3 p.m. Immaculate, Owensboro

Sept. 27 – 11 a.m. St. Mary of the Woods, Whitesville


Visitor information about Owensboro and Daviess County is available at VisitOwensboro.com and 800-489-1131. Owensboro event updates are at https://www.facebook.com/VisitOwensboro.



Beck Glenn

Visit Owensboro

800-489-1131 (office)

(270) 929-9995 (mobile)