• 72°

Jefferson sets sights on annual barbecue

Jefferson Community Club will host its annual barbecue on Saturday, April 20.

Barbecue by the pound will be available beginning at 9 a.m. Then, beginning at 10:30 a.m., guests can dine in and enjoy pit-cooked barbecue with sides of homemade potato salad, bread, pickles, homemade cakes, and tea for only $9. Take-out plates will also be available beginning at 10:30, and the event will end at 2 p.m. unless barbecue sells out before then.

The club will also sell event t-shirts and pints of sauce. For nearly 50 years the event has been the community club’s primary fundraiser for community service projects. Friends and neighbors have come to enjoy the springtime tradition and the delicious meal.

“We’ve had several sell-out years recently, and we’re hoping for the same again this year,” said Jimmy Patterson, president of the club this year. “We’ll sell from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., or until it’s gone.”

Patterson and other club members agree that the sell-out years have become more consistent because of the loyalty in the support base that attends the Jefferson Barbecue each year.

“We see so many familiar faces at the Barbecue each year, and it really means the world to us to have those people tell us they look forward to coming and how much they enjoy it,” Patterson said. “With the Barbecue being on Easter weekend this year, we expect to see additional visitors from out of town who may not necessarily be able to make it other times.”

The event is held the third Saturday of April each year, and Patterson said that the last time it coincided with Easter weekend, it was an early sell-out.

In Jefferson, they’ve been cooking barbecue for as long as most folks can remember, so the technique and recipes are fine-tuned. It goes without saying that the ladies have perfected their potato salad and cake recipes, too.

“We all have jobs that we do each year, and we’ve done it for so long it’s like second nature, but we still do a lot of preparing and work in the weeks leading up to the barbecue,” Patterson explained. “This is an important day for us, so we like to make sure we do everything we can to make sure people have enjoy their meal and have a good time catching up with old friends.”

Established in 1953, Jefferson Community Club is the last remaining club of its type. In its early days, the club competed against other community clubs in the areas of farming, land management, community service, crafts, cooking, and more. Now, the club centers its focus on fellowship and community service projects.

Past barbecues have funded maintenance at the historic clubhouse, like the addition of a handicap accessible deck, a second dining room, renovations, maintenance, and all that’s necessary for this annual event. In fact, it works so well, it’s used twice a year, with the secondbarbecue being held in October to benefit the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department. Members of the VFD pitch in to lead the cooking effort both times.

Whether it’s the delicious homemade cakes and potato salad or Mr. Douglas Peteet’s unique sauce, or the laid-back fellowship, it’s a good time and good food.

Peteet, still regarded as the chief sauce cook, has passed his recipe and technique on to the next generation, so it’s a time-tested delicacy by now. Peteet supervises while O’Neal Parker and Dave Compton mix and measure. Several like to stir the pot.

“We really look forward to this weekend,” said George Norris, a lifetime resident of Jefferson and the community’s fire chief. “We all volunteer our time and work leading up to it as we clean the pit, make repairs, gather supplies and ingredients, then spend a day and night cooking. We’re all exhausted by the end of the day of the barbecue, but we enjoy it and we know what a difference it makes for the club and the community.”

The club’s barbecue pit is a unique one, built for this event. It’s a concrete pit with reinforced grates atop that allow for cooking over a glowing bed of hickory coals. The pit runs more than 20 feet long and about 6 feet wide.

It’s estimated that around 100 people volunteer to help host the event, and they agree that the work required to host the event is well worth the tradition and fellowship.

For more information on the Jefferson Barbecue, visit the Club online at www.facebook.com/jeffersoncommunityclub.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, April 3 issue of the Demopolis Times.)