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Charlotte Thompson barbecue Thursday

Posted: March 17, 2015 4:57 p.m.
Updated: March 18, 2015 1:00 a.m.
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The Charlotte Thompson Annual Barbecue, now in its 57th year, is a popular, family-oriented event. Proceeds benefit the Charlotte Thompson Volunteer Fire Department and Charlotte Thompson Community Center.

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It’s a tradition much revered and long lived. In fact, like blooming Bradford pear trees and flocks of robins, one could very easily count the annual Charlotte Thompson Barbecue as an official harbinger of spring.

However one chooses to view it, the barbecue, now in its 57th year, is a popular event, with people from all over this area dropping by for platefuls of barbecued pork or chicken, rice, hash, slaw and homemade desserts.

The barbecue started as a fundraiser for the Charlotte Thompson Fire Department in 1958, the same year the Charlotte Thompson Community Center was built.

Later, the proceeds from the barbecue were split between the fire department and the center. Over the years, the barbecue has brought in enough revenue to allow the community to re-roof both the main building and barbecue pit as well as install an HVAC system.

The center is also available for rental for events.

Currently, eight firefighters work out of the CTVFD station and service the area; they are all volunteers who also work full time jobs.

Nonetheless, fundraising is not the only function of the barbecue; at its heart it is a fun family affair, one that remains deeply rooted in the lives of those who live in the Charlotte Thompson Community. Indeed many of the families involved are second and third generation residents of the Charlotte Thompson community, noted Sallie Cobb, who serves as secretary/treasurer of the Charlotte Thompson Community Center board and who has been involved with the barbecue from the beginning.

New families to the area have stepped right into the tradition as well, she added.

"Our community is made up of members who have lived here all their lives along with second and third generations," she said. "We also have many new members who are a vital part of the community."

While the event and the community has seen some growth over the years, the original traditions are still largely in place, with the men cooking the meat and the women of the community providing desserts, she said.

"The firemen and the gentlemen in the community cook the meat all night," she said. "They start the day before and slowly cook using a recipe handed down from the first cooks many years ago. Ladies prepare the wonderful desserts and serve the night of the barbecue."

The barbecue will be from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19 at the Charlotte Thompson Community Center, 524 Community Center Road. All plates are $8 each and attendees can eat at the center or take plates to go.

Tickets are available from any member of the community or are available at the door the day of the barbecue.

"The center is easy to find, but if all else fails, you can probably just follow your nose," Cobb said.

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