Poster from 1962 chicken barbecue donated to Fillmore Fire Department

Monday, September 11, 2017
A poster from 1962 advertises the third annual “Firemen’s Chicken Bar-B-Que” in Fillmore. Just ahead of this year’s 58th annual event, Mt. Meridian native Donna Bailey Badger donated the poster to the Fillmore Community Volunteer Fire Department on Monday.

_Chicken barbecue set Friday, Saturday_

_The 58th annual Fillmore Fire Department Chicken Barbecue is set for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15 and 16._

_Serving is set to begin at 5 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday, continuing until they run out of chicken._

Just in time for the 58th annual Fillmore Fire Department Chicken Barbecue, area native Donna Bailey Badger donates a sign from the third annual event to the department. Department president Terry Wood accepts the donation from Badger on Monday, along with (from left) firefighters Jim Boles and Todd Zeiner, vice president Charles Martin and John Davies, the longest-tenured member of the department at 52 years.

FILLMORE -- Donna Bailey Badger has deep ties to Putnam County history.

The 1950 Fillmore High School graduate grew up in Mt. Meridian, next door to The Half Way House, the 1830 inn where such dignitaries as Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster are rumored to have spent the night.

Later, Badger worked at the Old Trail Inn, the former restaurant in Putnamville whose reputation is so legendary locally that it has inspired a series of Putnam County Museum dinners as former workers and customers share their stories.

Even though Badger now resides in Carmel, she has remained in touch with her Putnam County roots and the community’s history.

So when Donna’s daugther found a poster advertising the third annual Fillmore Fire Department Chicken Barbecue, she knew her mother needed it.

“She knew I had ties to this area and thought it would be fun to have,” Badger said.

Badger estimates that the framed sign hung in her computer room for eight to 10 years.

More recently, though, she’s been trying to find a new use for some of her Putnam County memorabilia, perhaps donating it to the Putnam County Museum or other worthy organizations.

In the case of the poster, though, an Fillmore High School classmate had other ideas.

“When I found out what she had, I thought it would be relevant to the fire department,” Mary Alice Harcourt said.

Using her connections to the department, Harcourt, who has remained in the Fillmore area, set up a donation of the poster — and just in time for the department’s 58th annual barbecue fundraiser, set for this weekend, beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday and resuming at noon on Saturday.

The donation was officially made on Monday afternoon at the fire station, with Badger, her niece Glenna Timmons, Harcourt and several firefighters in attendance.

For their part, Fillmore Community Volunteer Fire Department officials remain unsure of where the sign will hang, but they are interested in preserving the history of the department and its signature annual fundraiser.

“We’re going to hang it on a wall somewhere,” department president Terry Wood said.

When it finds its home, the poster will not be alone.

“We have other barbecue memorabilia that some of the firefighters have kept,” vice president Charles Martin said. “We just don’t have a place to put it yet.”

Those plans will have to remain on the back burner for a few days, as the department’s 17 active members plan to serve chicken to what they estimate will be more than 2,000 customers each day.

The two-day event would also not be possible without volunteers from the firefighters’ families, local churches, Dixie Chopper and other community members.

It’s a community tradition that dates back even further than the donated poster’s 1962 origin.

Although she parted with the sign, Badger’s recent interactions with Harcourt made her aware that another of her historical connections is again active. After two successful Old Trail Inn dinners in August and September, the museum has slated two more for October and November.

Badger already has tickets for one, with plans to relive a different set of old memories.

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