SYRACUSE — The annual Turkey Creek firefighters barbecue usually consists of a four-hour flurry of dishing out pork chops, chicken halves and corn on the cob to a hungry — and supportive — Syracuse area community.
But the preparation for the fundraiser, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 2, at Fire Station 1, 402 Huntington St., Syracuse, begins months before the event.
“We start the process in late March or early April by forming a committee,” said Fire Chief Mickey Scott. “This committee obtains an estimate of the prices we can obtain the meat for, even though the fluctuation of meat prices plays a factor.
“The committee calculates how many bags of charcoal, lighter fluid, carry out trays, aluminum foil, etc. we will need and the committee members acquire these items, usually the week leading up to the event.
“The committee arranges for the delivery of the meat the morning of the event so everything is fresh,” said Scott. “All the ingredients for the barbecue sauce are purchased, combined, cooked, etc. Several members of the department bring in coolers, which are cleaned and lined with aluminum foil so the meat and corn on the cob can be kept hot and fresh until it is sold.”
The secret, it is often said, is in the sauce.
“The barbecue sauce is made by the wife of one of the fire department members from a recipe passed down from wife to wife through the years,” he said.
The department wisely stays with the winning formula. “This recipe is probably at least 30 years old and remains the same,” said Scott.
Department members fire up the charcoal at 5:30 a.m. the morning of the event to commence cooking the 600 chicken halves, 600 pork chops and 30 dozen ears of corn.
The cost is $6 per chicken half or pork chop and $1 for an ear of corn; the entire inventory is typically sold out by 2 p.m.
“We do our best to maintain prices from year to year,” said Scott.
Department personnel spend the remainder of the afternoon “cleaning the grills, dishes, coolers, etc. with a heated power washer to return all items to their original condition.”
But it isn’t just about the food, according to Scott.
“The community participation during this event is tremendously important to our department,” he said. “It gives us a chance to meet with the citizens of our community in a relaxed atmosphere versus during an emergency.
“Usually we get a chance to meet with the citizens of our community that we haven’t met with since the previous year. It is kind of like a community and fire department reunion for us.”
Proceeds go to the department, which has used such funds to purchase helmets and Class A uniforms for the firefighters and extrication, rescue, firefighting and EMS equipment and to assist citizens in need. “Basically, the money raised is reinvested into our community,” said Scott.
There are no advance ticket sales. Patrons may dine in the seating area in station’s bays or take advantage of the drive-though and walk-up service provided by the firefighters. Scott requested customers to use the Henry Street entrance east of the station to minimize traffic on SR 13.
For more information, call (574) 457-4100.