About the Irish Picnic

Barbecue for Everyone

St. Patrick Irish Picnic and Homecoming in McEwen, TN is an annual event regularly attended by over 20,000 fun-loving people from across the nation.  Originating in 1854, the picnic is known for its famous barbecue pork and the secret sauce than ranks it among the most delectable barbecue ever tasted.  The first Irish Picnic was held to raise funds for a new church bell for St. Patrick Church.  Local farmers donated pigs and sheep for the fundraising meals that fed the railroad community of McEwen.  Efforts were so successful that generations of church members and other volunteers have turned it into a community project with proceeds being used for the financial support of St. Patrick School.

The ingredients of the legendary hot sauce is known to only one church member, Frank Walsh, whose family brought it with them from Ireland. The closely guarded recipe is kept under lock and key and one day be passed to his sons.  A 300 gallon kettle is used to make the secret sauce.

The Irish Picnic is held the last Friday and Saturday in July.  Early visitors may want to feast on the 4,200 chicken halves, which are prepared by lunchtime on Friday.  Live music and dancing begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday lasting all day.  The Irish picnic is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records (1988) as the world’s largest outdoor barbecue.  “Cead Mile Failte” or “One Hundred Thousand Welcomes” is an old Irish greeting and the Irish Picnic theme.  And “welcome” is exactly what visitors will feel when they come for the food, music, dancing, games & homespun fun at the Irish Picnic and Homecoming.