It was hot and the air was thick with humidity. Children were everywhere. People were sweating. A few politicians were present. Old friends greeted each other.

It was hot and the air was thick with humidity. Children were everywhere. People were sweating. A few politicians were present. Old friends greeted each other.

In other words, a perfect Sunday for the Swinkey Picnic at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Indian Creek. Hundreds of people ignored the stifling heat, diving into a day of day of food and activities.

Billed as the oldest picnic west of the Mississippi River, the event draws people from around the state for a homecoming of sorts.

“They come to see old friends, relatives and just to visit,” said the Very Rev. Michael Penn, who has served St. Stephens and Holy Rosary in Monroe City since 2010. “This is my seventh picnic…it is wonderful to see people gather.”

Standing with longtime church members Matt Spalding and David Yates, the father said it takes about 75 volunteers to make the event work, doing everything from selling lunch tickets, running games, calling bingo, selling T-shirts to helping serve the lunch of chicken.

“We’ve sold about 600 lunch tickets for far,” said Yates.

The day started with the celebration of a morning Mass at St. Stephens, and then adjourned to a variety of activities - ball and ring tosses and horseshoes. In fact, there is a Horseshoe Hall of Fame Tower at the picnic.

“I grew up in Hunnewell and have come to the picnic for years,” said Dan Lucas of Hannibal. “I just know so many people here…and I love the horseshoe competition.”