Success Story: Barbecue first date leads to 54-year marriage

May 18, 2016

Art and Judy McManusAmid the throngs bent on a buffalo burger, Cupid once shot an arrow.

On Sunday, his targets — Art McManus and Judy Couturier — plan to attend their 55th NMC Barbecue. They had their first date at the 1962 event (pictured below).

“My girlfriend and I were riding through town, and we met him and his friend. And he asked me to go to the Barbecue the next day,” recalled Judy, who was then 18.

There must have been something in the air besides the scent of barbecue. Six months later, Art and Judy were married. As they embarked on a life raising three children, running a family cherry farm, and professional careers, they always kept the Barbecue date on their calendar.

“Rain, sleet or snow, we’ve been there,” she said. “We just have never missed one.”

The McManuses fill the day with tradition, from visiting the classroom displays to the cakewalk to the newer “buffalo cam” photo opportunity. (Granddaughter Alica Revett is pictured at last year's event below.) Their entourage has grown from two to as many as 17, now extending to a third generation.

NMC Barbecue in the 1960sThey support NMC for the opportunities it offers residents. All three of their children attended NMC, with one attending Ferris State University through the University Center as well. A grandson is currently enrolled in Davenport University at NMC’s University Center.

“It’s a good thing for the community,” Judy McManus said. “It’s good that (NMC) has all these other universities and colleges that participate with them. It makes it easier for the kids.”

Their Barbecue commitment will be tested this year. The McManuses will be celebrating their granddaughter’s hockey championship at a Tigers game in Detroit Saturday. But they’ll be up bright and early Sunday morning, headed home for the annual picnic under the pines.

“It’s a tradition. We can’t miss it,” Judy McManus said.

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