Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Community Barbecue

Every Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, the Volunteer Fire Department holds a barbecue to raise money. It's been held for decades and is a great place to catch up with folks you haven't seen for awhile. My husband and I are members of the Volunteer Fire Department and the barbecue is held at the cookhouse next to our house, so we had great views of the event from start to finish. 

The start actually begins several months in advance with the planning. Food is ordered, a cleanup day is scheduled the weekend before the barbecue, and tasks are divvied up. Finally the big weekend arrives. 

On Friday night the meat (tri-tip roasts) is taken out of the huge walk-in cooler, rinsed, and marinated with yummy barbecue sauce. At first only one person squirted a bottle of barbecue sauce.

That was going slow, so another person started squirting. His squirt looks more sporadic than the first. Neatness didn't count for this part, because we had several coolers to marinate, plus the more barbecue sauce, the better!

One volunteer reaches into the cold meat to make sure that it is all covered. Looks nice and messy, doesn't it!? The meat goes back into the walk-in cooler until the next day.

At mid-morning on Saturday, more preparations take place, like shucking the corn. Coming from the Midwest, this is one of my all-time favorite tasks. As I shuck the corn I just imagine biting into those firm, sweet kernels, releasing a wonderful squirt of corn juice. Mmmm.

Tables and chairs are set up, signs made, lemonade mixed, potatoes wrapped and baked, beans prepared, and much more. Desert Boy kept me occupied for a little while so I didn't get a chance to take photos of all the separate parts, but you get the idea. 

The serving line was set up in the cookhouse. Folks enter through one door and exit through another, making it an efficient process. The smells in the cookhouse are getting better and better as we approach the appointed hour.

At the back door of the cookhouse, the corn station is setup. Two huge pots are filled with water and a flame thrower is used to light the burners. Okay, it's probably not exactly a flame thrower, but it sure looked like one to me.

On the front porch of the cookhouse, this huge cauldron is set up. Can you see the smoke coming off the top? Why in the world do we have a witch's brew for a barbecue? This is the homemade root beer, and the dry ice is making the neat visual effect.

Over on the side the guys are grilling the roasts over a bed of charcoals. The barbecued meat flavor ensures that people are constantly circling around the grill to check out the progress.

Here's some of the circle. In the background of this photo you should see some mountains, but a huge rainstorm came in about half an hour before we were due to start. The wind started blowing, and we could see rain showers on the mountain. We tried to figure out what we would do if it started pouring rain or even hailing. We ended up deciding that the storm would blow through, and sure enough, it did. 

The scary weather did scare some people away, but we still had many come. Here's the line forming at the front of the cookhouse to get the delectable food. 

People whizzed through the serving line thanks to the attentive servers. Ready for the mouth-watering menu? Here it is: tri-tip roast (or hot dogs for the kids), baked potato, corn on the cob, beans, salad, roll, watermelon, cake, root beer, and lemonade. 

I was trying to help sell tickets, so I parked Desert Boy with one of the oldest inhabitants of the valley. He quickly tried to steal her watermelon. 

Some of the kids thought stirring the cauldron was really fun. The aroma of root beer filled the air.

After we had eaten as much as we could hold, it was time for the games. I guess I'm still a kid at heart because I volunteered to organize them. Here we are getting ready for the watermelon seed spitting contest. It's not so easy with seedless watermelons. (Thanks to K. Rountree for this and the next photo.)
The water balloon toss was a huge hit despite the little sprinkle of rain we had right before the dinner. In fact the kids clamored to do the water balloon toss again. So we did it again. And again, until we ran out of balloons.

Finally it was time to clean up. Leftover meat was bagged and sold, chairs and tables taken back to the school, garbage taken to the dumpster, and the floor mopped. It was a good, but tiring day. But we saved enough energy to head out to the dance and dance the night away.


The Incredible Woody said...

I love community gatherings like that - I want to come next year!!

Anonymous said...

The food out your way is always awesome! Glad you had a lot of leftovers.

Anonymous said...

I've never had homemade rootbeer. Everything sounds delicious. Maybe that could be our family reunion next year!


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