BBQ fundraiser for Bath VFD exceeds expectations

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, May 31, 2023


For the Washington Daily News

A wave of success has washed over the town of Bath in the wake of widespread event cancellations last weekend. After extreme weather alerts were broadcast in Beaufort County and beyond, cancellations spread like fire ant mounds. Fundraisers meant for the weekend included Fossil Fest at the Aurora Fossil Museum, which has been rescheduled, and Bath’s long-running Memorial Day celebration, which was canceled. Only one event – a BBQ competition/benefit sponsored by the North Carolina BBQ League – remained and, according to organizers, succeeded beyond all previous rainy day expectations.

More than 20 BBQ teams arrived on Saturday afternoon, armed with almost as much rain gear as grilling equipment. The cooking, chopping, plating and praying for prizes lasted overnight, customary for this kind of event, which is the second BBQ fundraiser ever held on behalf of Bath’s volunteer firefighters. According to organizers, more than $7,000 was raised from sales of their tasty results.

More than 1,200 pairs of pork sandwiches — complete with a container of slaw, a soft drink, and potato chips — plus at least 400 one-pound containers of the prized pork were sold that day. Keith Bosquet, a 33-year veteran of Bath VFD who became chief last January, said one person “just drove up to our drive-through line and paid for 100 containers! I’ve lived in the Bath community near all my life. Me and one of my captains worked the drive through line last weekend, and I didn’t recognize over half the people who showed up for this,” he said of the event, popularized regionally as a fundraising tool by the North Carolina BBQ League.

Bosquet said two targets are being considered for those funds. One is “still in the beginning stages, so we don’t want to specify… but there’s some fun stuff coming” he said, noting that better social media exposure is also on the department’s list.

“We’ve been trying to compile material for recruitment with our new social media team,” Bosquet said of the new effort, active since last January. “Our social media has been very, very successful since February, compared to previous efforts. One post of our firemen putting on turnout gear got more than 37 thousand hits,” he said, adding that hits can turn into donations. “In this day and time, firefighting protective gear can cost upwards of $5,000 per person. That takes a lot of money,” he said regarding the budget needs of Bath’s 28 current volunteer firefighters.

Bosquet made a point, several times, to compare the dedication of local BBQ competitors to the kind of commitment needed by the members of any volunteer fire department. “Just like us, they are brothers and sisters in arms. Their members didn’t quit and neither do we. It doesn’t matter if there’s a hurricane blowing when your members are dedicated to the community and dedicated to the department. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to come alongside us. The moral to this story, for both our groups, is that we’re not going to quit. If you call us, we’re coming.”