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Cornelius News

Mt. Zion Barbecue goes whole hog on Nov. 5

Photo provided by Amy Scotton

Oct. 30. A long-running Cornelius tradition—the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church Barbecue—is Saturday, Nov. 5.

A country style dining room aka the Family Life Center is the setting again; things changed to take-out only during the  pandemic.

The drive-through take-out line will be in place this year.

Proceeds support mission work

Barbecue plates, sandwiches, BBQ by the pound with sauce and pints of coleslaw will be sold. All proceeds go to support church mission work.

The Mt. Zion BBQ Committee has decided to keep the price of the barbecue and the dinners at the same $12 as last year, despite the  increase in the cost of the meat. “We may make a little less profit,” co-chair of the event Shawna Sherrill says, “but it’s necessary to recognize the realities of the current economy.”

Coleslaw will be $5 per pint.

Glad it’s back to normal

“During the pandemic, when we couldn’t all get together to eat, a lot of the joy was gone,” says Anna Brown, co-chair of the event.

Her counterpart Sherrill agrees.

“This was always a time when you would see people you might not have seen for months, not just from the church,” she says, “from the whole community.”

A beloved tradition

Members of the church, which just celebrated its 195th anniversary in September, have a keen sense of its history.

The BBQ, started in 1939, plays a big role in that history. This year, some of the BBQ prep work will return to the building on campus referred to as The Hut.

The log building was built in 1932 by the Men’s Bible Class, members of which cut down the trees and hauled in the logs themselves.

The cooking pits

“A lot of people don’t realize what all it takes to put something like this together,” Wayne Westmoreland says.

Westmoreland, who admits to about 25 years of cooking the barbecue, points out that just gathering and chopping the wood starts at least a month before the cooking.

“I’ve turned it all over to the younger ones now,” he says. “ I just help some with finding the hickory wood.”

The best thing about the barbecuing experience?

“The fellowship. Four to six fellows, watching the cooking, watching the coals. You really get to know people. Catch up. Ya’ know you have to keep talking if you’re gonna stay awake all night,” Westmoreland says.

Lots of food

There are 12 sub-committees that work together to make the barbecue happen. Think 2,500 pounds of pork butt; at least 80 gallons of slaw; the barbecue sauce (the recipe is secret) and uncountable numbers of yams, a crowd favorite.

The yams, coated in a clandestine syrup recipe, are back by popular demand.

All together, that’s over 24 straight hours of food preparation, not including packaging.

Smooth operation, mostly

After 83 years, the barbecue runs like a well-oiled machine, with many people willing to take the same jobs year after year.

However, there are sometimes glitches.

Jan Horton, chairperson of this year’s dining experience, recalls a few.

“There was the year someone forgot to double-check the meat order and they ended up with twice what they had ordered,” Horton says. “And, then, one year the meat chopper broke. I will not repeat the words that were said or who said them.”

— Contributed by Mt. Zion UMC member Amy Scotton

The 1950s: BBQ workers in front of The Hut.