Blackman Barbecue still expands with community

By Scott Broden
Source: The Daily News Journal

Long before the annual Blackman Barbecue started its tradition of gathering neighbors, friends and politicians, young folks in this former rural community used to enjoy a social event on the McDonald farm.

“It was an ice cream supper and square dance,” recalled Donald McDonald, whose late aunt, Frances McDonald, organized the event.

This year’s barbecue, the 65th, will be from 5-8 p.m. Friday at Lane-Agri Park, 315 John Rice Blvd. Those enjoying the barbecue sandwiches, cold slaw, beans and other treats will also get the chance to complete a straw poll for the candidates running in upcoming elections, organizers said.

“Most all of the politicians have come out for years and years,” club member John L. Batey said. “We’ve had bunches.”

The meal will be $5 for children, $8 for those 65 and older and $10 for other adults.

Prior to the event being at Lane-Agri Park, the Blackman Community Club used Blackman Middle School for a few years, and that was only because the clubhouse grounds at 4310 Manson Pike proved to be too small for the marquee event for this fast-growing community on the west side of Murfreesboro .

The clubhouse served as a gathering spot for a barbecue that attracted many people beyond the Blackman community.

Before that, younger Blackman residents used to gather for the square dancing, music, ice cream and water melon event celebrated on the front yard of the home of Frances and Dennis McDonald, recalled their nephew.

His aunt held the event for young people involved with the 4-H Club in particular, and a University of Tennessee Extension agent helped by setting up a public address system, Donald McDonald said.

His aunt was in a group of women who were part of the UT-Extension Home Demonstration Club, which involved learning how to work with electricity, preserve food, make clothing and other domestic activities, the nephew said.

They wanted a regular place to meet.

“They convinced their farmer husbands to construct the Blackman Club,” Donald McDonald said. “They called it the Blackman Club because the women chose to call it that.”

The name “Blackman Club” remains on the building even though others refer to it as the Blackman Community Club, which is also the name that appears on the sign at the entrance to the club property.

Club members such as Batey and McDonald are proud that the clubhouse remains a viable part of a new Blackman community that blends farm families with new folks who have moved into the suburban subdivisions that surround Blackman schools.

Part of the proceeds for the barbecue funds the upkeep of the old clubhouse. The grounds there include a concrete basketball court with one hoop, a playground, a few picnic tables and a pavilion.

McDonald said part of the reason the grounds no longer were spacious enough is because the club lost land when the Murfreesboro government widened Manson Pike.

In addition to the proceeds helping clubhouse maintenance, the club members also award usually $500 college scholarships each to male and female students from the Blackman community after graduation from high school, Batey said.