Since before Richmond Hill was officially a city, the Richmond Hill United Methodist Church has hosted its annual Bar-B-Q, Bazaar and Silent Auction. Now in its 61st year, the church fundraiser continues to kick off the holiday season with home-style barbecue and handcrafted gifts.
“The barbecue has evolved as the church and the community and economy have evolved, but the heart of it has stayed the same,” said Rick Gardner, who organized this year’s event, which took place Saturday.
“Families from the church still take time out of their busy schedules to volunteer, and people from the community still come by to get good barbecue. That part — the family and fellowship — hasn’t changed since 1951,” he explained.
Gardner called turnout “robust,” stating that more than 2,000 people from around the region stopped by to eat and shop. He said the church sold nearly 8,000 pounds of Boston butts, ribs and chopped pork.
Savannah resident Lucy Behr has attended the barbecue every year since she and three of her friends first discovered it in 2006.
“Every year we make a day of it,” she said. “We absolutely love the barbecue, and the shop has such nice things for Christmas gifts. We look forward to it all year.”
Volunteers began preparing the meat on Wednesday — cooking the pork in 28 wood-fired cookers behind the church, chopping it with industrial-grade kitchen equipment and packing it for sale.
The finished product was sold Saturday for guests to take home with them or to eat on-site with potato salad and spiced apples.
Hundreds of different desserts — ranging from cookies and cakes to pies and custards — were also available for purchase. Each was homemade by a member of the RHUMC congregation.
All in all, Gardner said it took the efforts of more than 200 volunteers to make the fundraiser a success.
“It’s a ballet,” he said. “It might be a ballet full of a bunch of old country boys, but it’s still a ballet. It takes the coordinated efforts of a whole lot of people working together to make this happen.”
On the bazaar side of the event, church members and local businesses sold homemade arts, crafts, canned goods and holiday decorations. A silent auction offered specialty items and gift packages to the highest bidder.
The Bar-B-Q, Bazaar and Silent Auction is RHUMC’s largest annual fundraiser. The money raised will benefit the church’s various ministries.
“This event allows us to meet a substantial portion of the needs of our church, and we have a good time doing it,” said Gardner. “You can’t ask for more than that.”