With nearly half a century’s experience, Ron Rafuse of Woodville knows a thing or two about barbecuing chicken.
In spite of heavy rain, Rafuse and a team of dozens of community volunteers forged ahead to stage the Woodville Chicken Barbecue at Boates Family Farm, an Apple Blossom Festival weekend tradition.
Rafuse said they started boiling the special sauce - which is sprayed on the chicken as it barbecues - at around 6:20 a.m. Ingredients include Boates Cider Vinegar, water, salt and margarine. They started barbecuing the 3,600 pieces of chicken at 7 a.m. for the 11 a.m. start.
There was still a steady stream of customers even though it was pouring by shortly after 1 p.m. Rafuse said it remained to be seen if the biggest barbecue around would sell out.
“We did last year, I don’t know if we will this year with the weather the way it is,” he said.
Rafuse said they bought a specially made, heavy-duty tarp last year to keep the rain off the barbecue pits as the chicken cooks. It ended up coming in handy.
They have two large barbecue pits made of cement cinderblocks. Filled to capacity, the pits hold 18 racks of chicken. Volunteers turn the racks every two minutes and apply the special barbecue sauce. Rafuse said it takes 22 volunteers per shift to pull it off.
He is now passing on his wealth of knowledge and experience to a younger generation. Rafuse has seen the event grow by leaps and bounds over the decades. The first year, volunteers barbecued a mere 250 pieces.
It cost $13 for a meal consisting of a half chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, pickles, a roll with butter, honey and apple cider, tea or coffee. The barbecue raises money for the ongoing maintenance of the Woodville Community Centre. Rafuse said it all began as a way to pay the heating oil bill.
He first became interested in the idea when he worked for Canard Poultry. Rafuse learned the recipe and the finer points of barbecuing chicken through a course at the Nova Scotia Community College.
He now has a hand in running several other large chicken barbecues, including one in support of the Kings Mutual Century Centre in Berwick, one for the Waterville and District Fire Department and one for Eden Valley Farms.
“I just enjoy, I guess, the cooking of it,” he said.
EVENTS CANCELLED, POSTPONED
The rainy weather did take its toll on several other Apple Blossom Festival events planned for June 2.
The Berwick Antique Car Show at Rainforth Park was cancelled, as was the Scotian Gold Family Fun Day in Coldbrook.
The Northville Farm Heritage Centre’s Antique Tractor Pull has been postponed until June 8.