By Alison James
“There’s a lot of prayer that goes up at a barbecue, like working with the church. It’s a lot of prayer and a lot of ‘Thank you, Lord.’”
As a committee member for the Waverly Bar-B-Q, Wanda Smith knows firsthand the kind of divine intervention that might seem necessary to pull the event off. For its 23rd year, the Waverly community will host this community event, scheduled for Oct. 11, 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Waverly Community Center on Patrick Street, with food sales beginning at 10 a.m.
“We started out with just a little stewpot and a portable grill under a pecan tree,” said committee member Becky Combs.
It’s grown from being a stewpot under a tree to a full-scale, massive community celebration and reunion. Although Combs and White said it’s hard to be sure what their typical turnout is, they can get a pretty good idea based on food sales – more than 400 pork or chicken plates last year and 200 half-chickens, not including the whole Boston butts, of which they sold out last year, and meat by the pound, all of which they purchase from Twin City Meats in Opelika.
Preparation for the meaty event begins well in advance of Saturday morning – stew mixing starts early Friday evening and doesn’t stop.
“They stir all night,” Smith said. “They use big paddles –”
“You have to continually stir or it will stick on the bottom and scorch,” Combs added.
Seventy or so volunteers roll their sleeves up to make the barbecue happen. Church and club ladies donate baked treats for sale and auction.
“We don’t have any retailers or any other food vendors,” Combs said. “The only way we make money is through the sale of our foods.”
Funds raised from the barbecue support the town; money collected this year will be combined with money saved from last year’s barbecue for a special project.
“We help keep up the cemetery,” Smith said. “We’re trying to get it paved … It’s been years and years, and it’s in really bad shape.”
Other barbecue event attractions include door prizes, an auction, a greased pig race and arts and crafts vendors. Entertainment this year will include barnyard bingo and local entertainment – the Celtic Traditions dancers and the Cowboy Church band.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s a lot of fun,” Smith said. “Bring your chair and stay awhile.”