Since May, the church has worked towards organizing its 52nd annual barbecue. The event began as a fish fry sponsored by the church’s men’s fellowship.
“The story goes that they had frozen fish and were unable to defrost it quickly enough as a crowd from the neighborhood showed up,” church member Clayton Webster said. “The president at the time of the fellowship joked ‘They had men down at the creek catching fish as fast as they could.’ So the next year, they decided cooking the hams would be easier to keep up with the crowds.”
The event has served more than 5,000 since 1991 and the proceeds go to 26 different charities associated with the church.
“A lot of people come back each year just to see friends,” church member Randy Thrower said. “It’s like a reunion for them.”
Besides the 300 pounds of ham, the church also prepares 440 gallons of Brunswick Stew and 900 pounds of coleslaw. Webster said the stew is what makes the barbecue different from other churches or Elk Lodges’ barbecue since they tend to have beans and coleslaw for sides.
Food preparation starts Thursday, as volunteers mix the ingredients for the stew in 40-gallon iron pots with huge wooden spoons for turners. Friday, church members will line the barbecue pit and start cooking the meat. Webster said they cook the meat all through the night and have a hot breakfast for those on the midnight shift.
After a ham is cooked, a table is set up and members surround the table to debone the meat. Once the bones are gone, volunteers move the meat to the kitchen where Thrower slices it with his crew. Thrower said because the meat is sliced makes the barbeque different from a restaurant since they tend to shred the ham.
Throughout Saturday, volunteers continue to work either by serving plates or preparing the soup or sauce bowls.
In addition to the food, the event is featuring the Tucker Station String Band to play bluegrass music throughout the day.
If you go:
When: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Oak Grove United Methodist Church, 1722 Oak Grove Road, Decatur
Cost: Adults $10, children $6