Jefferson heats the pit for April 16 barbecue

Jefferson Community Club will host its annual barbecue on Saturday, April 16. For nearly 50 years the event has been the club’s primary fundraiser for community service projects. Friends and neighbors have come to enjoy the springtime tradition and the delicious meal.

The legendary pit-cooked barbecue is available by the pound or as a meal for only $9. Those wanting to purchase pounds of barbecue can pick it up beginning at 9 a.m. Beginning10:30 a.m. guests can dine in to enjoy a full buffet style meal with homemade potato salad, cake, pickles, bread, and sweet tea. Take-out plates are available. The club will also sell event t-shirts on Saturday.

“This is our big event of the year,” said Wayne Baker, president of the club this year. “It’s just about down to a science now, but it still takes every hand we can get to make sure the day goes off without a hitch and that everybody who comes to support us gets to have a good meal and a good time with their 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 and the facility necessary for this cooking. This past year, that second dining room was part of a major renovation to make the facility more functional for large crowds like the one at the barbecue.

“We removed a wall between the two dining rooms, opening it up to make a larger space where everybody can visit a little easier,” Baker explained. “It really changed the looks of the place. We take pride in maintaining our building, and this is something we’ll enjoy for a long time to come.”

Jefferson’s barbecue pit is a unique one, and just for this annual event. Several folks work together to cook the meat all day and night over hickory coals on a concrete pit built more than 30 years ago. It’s maintained by funds raised by the barbecue each year, with upgrades over the years including a screened shelter and roof over it to protect it from the elements.

Although the elements, rain in particular, has put a damper on the event in years past, it doesn’t stop the show.

“The Jefferson Barbecue happens rain or shine,” Baker said. “We’ve had years when it was cold and windy, and other years when we had to run the A/C on high, but we’re ready, no matter what.”

Jefferson’s annual barbecue is the event of the season for more than just the club members.

Many out-of-towners mark their calendar each year for the Jefferson Barbecue in order to carry on what’s been a family tradition for them for years.

Whether it’s the homemade cake or Douglas Peteet’s unique sauce, 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. A limited supply of the sauce is available in pint bottles bearing Peteet’s likeness. The cost per pint is $3.

“We are excited about barbecue weekend,” Baker said. “It takes a lot of hard work to prepare, and we’re all exhausted by the end of the day, but we love it because we get to see people that we haven’t seen since this time last year, and we really enjoy working together as a community. We like to eat a little barbecue, too!”

In Jefferson, they’ve been making barbecue, good 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.

For more information on the Jefferson Barbecue, visit the Club online at jeffersoncommunityclub.