The annual Adams County Junior Fair Beef Barbecue was held on Thursday, Sept. 3 at the Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center (CTC). This year the barbecue served 1,177 people with 750 take-outs and 427 eat-ins.
The annual event began in 1963 when the local Bankers and Implement Dealers Associations purchased fair stock to help raise money to build show barns on the fairgrounds.
Before the showrooms were built animals were shown in either the fairground’s center arena or in a fenced in area on the grounds.
The barbeque is produced every year through the combined efforts of the Junior Fair members, the Commissioners’ office, the County Highway office, and the local schools’ FFA Chapters.
The County Highway Department, with permission of the County Commissioners office, digs the forty-foot long, four foot deep and wide barbeque pit in which the meat is slow-cooked. The five cords of wood necessary to fill the pit with hot coals is supplied by Jack Hazelbaker of West Union.
Two days before the barbecue is set to begin, FFA Chapters from the CTC, West Union and Manchester High Schools began splitting the logs for the fire pit.
On the day before the barbecue, the pit is filled with slabs and kindling wood and set ablaze around 5 p.m.
Every hour more wood is added until 11:30 p.m. The fire is then allowed to die down until 3 a.m. when an inch of sand is thrown over the two feet of hot coals produced from the burning wood.
While the pit is being fired, Virginia Grooms of West Union, and her assistants prepared and wrapped the meat in parchment paper and muslin cloth and the meat is placed into the pit on Thursday morning at 3:30 a.m.
Steel posts are then laid over the pit and covered with old barn tin and a foot of dirt to create an earthen oven.
The Peebles FFA Chapter arrives at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. They uncover the pit and transport the meat to the CTC building where it is sliced.
CTC Restaurant Management Instructor Becky Foster and her food-service class then prepare the sandwiches.
The Junior Fair Queen and her court along with other Junior Fair members were also on hand to assist with the event.