Bakersville Fire Department chicken barbeque a tradition for many

| June 17, 2019

BAKERSVILLE – The Bakersville Fire Department was started in 1960 and the chicken barbeque fundraiser started soon after. The barbeque and antique tractor pull are held twice a year and are the major fundraisers for the volunteer department.

The first barbeque of the year was held Saturday, June 15. Despite the rain, a large crowd gathered to enjoy chicken, homemade potato salad, applesauce, roll, homemade desserts and a drink.

“We cooked 800 chicken halves for today and usually sell out,” said Fire Chief John Ridenour.  “We did have one year that was just a disaster with the weather, so we loaded the meals up in cars and sold them door-to-door. We have such an amazing community here. Anything we need, they are willing to support us.

“We have 12 members in the fire department,” said Ridenour. “We are the smallest department in the county and the only independent one. Our funds come from our fire levy and our two chicken dinners. We did get grants last year that helped us get $250,000 in new equipment.”

There were 20-25 volunteers, along with teens from the Ridgewood FFA and Progressive Livestock 4-H club, serving the food that evening and many more donated food and drinks for the dinner.

“We started cooking the chicken about 10:30 this morning,” said Ridenour.

They use a barbeque pit that is about 5’ x 36’ and each year they add improvements so the next time will be easier.

“We added a hose system so we can spray our sauce on the chicken easier,” said Ridenour.

Gerald Hothem is known as the master barbequer, along with his crew. He and one other person know the “secret” recipe for the sauce.

“My dad, Benton Hothem, and Charlie Haver started the barbeque,” said Gerald. “He told me the recipe and I won’t tell anyone else.”

Duke Berger is one of the volunteers who have been helping with the dinner for many years.  “Everyone keeps coming to try and figure out the secret sauce, but so far, no one has,” said Berger.

Berger said it takes a lot of people to make and serve the dinner.

“In June, we are competing against so many other events,” said Berger. “The August dinner is usually more crowded.”

The next chicken dinner and antique tractor pull will be during the Bakersville Homecoming Aug. 9 – 11.

“It’s like a big family reunion,” said Ridenour. “People plan vacations around it so they can come home and see everyone.”

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