Tracy Lawrence picked up a thing or two in the last 16 years about how to fry a turkey.
The country singer’s 16th Annual Mission:Possible Turkey Fry and Benefit Concert for the Nashville Rescue Mission is Tuesday in Nashville. Since Lawrence founded the event in 2006, 6,400 turkeys have been fried to feed 90,000 meals to Middle Tennessee’s homeless and hungry citizens.
Along the way, he learned not to drop a frozen turkey in hot oil, to make sure that every part of the bird is cooked to 165 degrees – and that if everyone pitched in a little bit to help their community, the world would be a better place.
“Sometimes, all it takes is a spark,” Lawrence said. “Something small can turn into something big. You just have to have the heart to want to give back to your fellow man.”
When Lawrence started Mission:Possible, it wasn’t with the vision to grow the turkey fry into the community event it has become. The singer said it “was just a little idea from a group of us” who wanted to give back.
“It was just an awareness campaign for the Rescue Mission,” he explained. “We never went into it trying to raise money. We would cook turkeys for friends and families and people who were afraid of fryers. This just evolved from that. I’m amazed what we’ve been able to do with this thing. I feel really blessed. It’s become its own Nashville tradition. It’s the kick-off to the holiday season for me.”
This year, Lawrence anticipates his team will fry 500 turkeys on Tuesday – because that’s all the refrigerators at the Nashville Rescue Mission can hold. The birds will be enough to make sure turkey is on 7,200 plates of food. However, this year was almost the Mission:Possible Chicken Fry. The pandemic forced Lawrence’s turkey supplier to close a couple of plants. They had turkeys, but not the size needed to fit in the singer’s fryers. To make up for it, the company donated hundreds of chickens that Lawrence swapped for turkeys the Rescue Mission already had in stock. Because turkey is a cost-effective protein, Lawrence said the mission serves it year-round. The mission was happy to receive the chickens to change up their menu, and Lawrence was still able to fry turkeys.
“It worked out ok,” he explained.
This is the sixth year Lawrence will host the post-fry concert, an event he said he delayed having for years because frying 500 turkeys is exhausting. Dustin Lynch, Michael Ray and Lainey Wilson will join Lawrence to entertain this year. He anticipates the night will raise around $150,000 for the Nashville Rescue Mission.
“They finally coerced me into the concert,” he said, explaining that after a long day cooking, he didn’t initially want to hop on stage. “And it’s pretty awesome. I’m proud to be in an industry where so many people feel the need to give back.”
Mission:Possible recently received its 501c3, and Lawrence plans to raise the non-profit’s profile. Earlier this year, Mission:Possible hosted its first concert – apart from the turkey fry. And the singer was staggered by how many people showed up. In addition, Lawrence has already zeroed in on a date for his Mission:Possible Golf Tournament in the spring.
“We’ve got a lot of ideas juggling around, and I think the future looks really bright,” Lawrence said. “I know a lot of peers from my era give back. I just think that it’s a great thing that we’re able to take the blessed career that we have and parlay it into something for our community. I hope we’re able to keep doing this for a long time.”
To attend the 16th annual Mission:Possible Turkey Fry or for more information, visit www.tlmissionpossible.com.