Huge community effort behind the success of Woodville chicken barbecue

Kirk Starratt
Published on May 27, 2014

For thousands of Kings County residents and visitors, the Apple Blossom Festival wouldn’t be the same without the Woodville chicken barbecue.

The tradition behind the event makes it synonymous with the festival and keeps generations of the same families coming back to the Boates apple orchards for more.

Chicken barbecue committee chairman George Foote said they set out picnic tables in the Boates apple orchard so people can enjoy their meal with family members and friends amongst the blossoms. Foote said he thinks the reason why people keep coming back is because they look forward to the experience so much.

He said the timing of the apple blossoms in Woodville should coincide this year with the barbecue, to be held June 1 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We should have blossoms,” Foote said. “They have been over with some years but they should be right on this year.”

With an estimated 125 volunteers working in shifts to pull it off, the barbecue epitomizes a community event. It takes a lot of resources to prepare 3,600 meals and Foote hopes they’ll sell out this year. He said they could get as many as 1,000 people waiting in line at the same time and they can turn out between 600 and 700 meals an hour.

Foote estimates that there are about 250 people living in Woodville, so considering that about half will volunteer in some capacity for the chicken barbecue, “It’s a real community-builder,” he said. This year marks the 43rd anniversary of the barbecue.

“Now we’re getting some of the grandchildren of the originals,” Foote said.

It costs $12 to enjoy a half-chicken barbecued over an open pit, along with potato salad, coleslaw, pickles, a roll, tea or coffee and Boates apple cider. All proceeds go toward maintaining the community centre and providing programs to residents of Woodville and surrounding areas.

It’s been a tradition to have Gordon Stobbe, co-creator and host of the long-running TV variety show Up Home Tonight, on hand for live musical entertainment. Unfortunately, Foote said that Stobbe has a prior commitment in Ontario this year and won’t be able to make it. However, Stobbe’s Mighty Oak String Band will be there.