COLUMBIA — Chicken didn't come in a bucket at Rock Bridge Elementary School’s 54th annual chicken barbecue.
It did, however, come with pie and a hayride on a wagon drawn by mules — for those into that.
The school held its annual chicken barbecue Saturday, served nearly 2,000 meals and made about $20,000 for the day, said PTA Treasurer Amy Buckley.
It was easily the school’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Buckley said.
“It’s a 54-year long-standing Columbia tradition,” said event co-chair Christi Farmer. “It brings the Rock Bridge family and the community together.”
Half a century ago, the event started as a pie supper, said Assistant Principal Ryan Link.
While the pie is certainly not downplayed — a room is devoted solely to cutting and plating pies — the supper has evolved into something more.
It required the assistance of more than 200 parents and community volunteers, said PTA President Elizabeth Mottaz. At 6:30 a.m. Saturday, a number were at Rock Bridge to start cooking chicken in the pits behind the school.
The barbecue had a carnival-like atmosphere with 11 game stations around the school, as well as live and silent auctions. The hayride, brought back after an absence of several years, was a highlight, courtesy of MU's College of Veterinary Medicine Mule Club.
Energy and excitement was everywhere — even on the yellow school buses that shuttled families from the event parking to Rock Bridge.
“Mom, when are we leaving?” echoed around the bus from several young voices.
A murmur of reassuring responses would follow. “We have to wait for the bus to fill up, sweetheart,” and “I know you’re excited.”
“Don’t worry, honey,” a mother said to a particularly concerned child, “we’re not going to miss it.”