Published in the September 9, 2015 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — All good things must come to an end.
The Lynnfield Rotary Club announced last week that the annual Chicken Barbecue, which has been a popular town event since it was first launched in the early 1960s, has been canceled. Rotary Club President Richard Simmons formally announced the decision, which was made by Rotary Club’s Board of Directors.
“The decision was made based on the changing dynamics in the community, the expenses involved and growing health concerns,” said Simmons.
The Lynnfield Chicken Barbecue started soon after the club was founded in 1963 and has always been held on the second Tuesday after Labor Day.
Since the Chicken Barbecue was first launched, Rotary Club members have either cooked the chicken themselves or hired a caterer to supply the chicken cooked. While a caterer has been used, club members used to heat up the chicken over coal fires and served them to townspeople who purchased a ticket to the barbecue. An alternative hot dog plate was offered starting in the early 1990s for children and adults who did not eat chicken.
“It was a time for the town to come together and enjoy a late summer’s evening on the town’s beautiful common,” said Simmons. “Preparation for this event usually started in the early summer with setting of prices, hiring a caterer, printing tickets, distributing the tickets to club members, renting tables and chairs and getting permission to use the Commons from the Board of Selectmen.”
Simmons also noted Rotary Club members traditionally showed up at the Town Common at noon on the day of the barbecue to begin getting ready for the event. He said club members would be tasked with husking corn, setting up tables and chairs, charcoal pits and serving tables. Additionally, Rotary Club members would clean up the Town Common after the barbecue came to a close.
“In total, most club members invested eight hours on the day of the event alone,” said Simmons.
Simmons highlighted several other reasons as to why the Rotary Club Board of Directors decided to put an end to the Chicken Barbecue.
“Declining numbers of participants, increased costs of materials and increased concerns regarding the reliability of caterers caused the board members to question whether club’s time and effort could be better spent on other projects,” said Simmons.
Simmons said the Rotary Club is currently involved with several different fundraisers at the moment. The fundraisers are the Turkey Trot road race in November, the Rotary Golf Tournament in the spring and the Taste of MarketStreet in May. He also said the Rotary Club sponsors the popular Concerts on the Common series and is one of many sponsors of the Reid’s Ride bike-a-thon, both of which are held in July. Lynnfield Rotary members participate in Reid’s Ride as well.
“This, all coupled with the club’s monthly serving of a meal at Haven From Hunger in Peabody, makes for a busy year and a substantial commitment for the 40 individuals who belong to the club,” said Simmons.
Simmons deciding to end the Chicken BBQ was “not an easy decision” to make, but he said, “It seemed an appropriate time to end this event.”