In that land of yesteryear of the 1950's, the Newfield Fire Company, being all volunteer with no support from local tax dollars, needed to raise money for equipment. A new idea was being tried out - this is before Perdue and other corporations became a huge poultry industry - and that was to grill chicken halves over a open pit of charcoal on a hot summer Sunday. Local farmers would donate or sell at cost to the Fire Company fresh ears of corn, ripe tomatoes and rolls. The Fire Company's Women's Auxiliary would help out by holding a bake sale and Kiwanis would arrange for games like coin tosses and pony rides.
Other local fire companies were doing the same thing and families loved it. The food was good and the price was reasonable. The firemen joked over the fire pits as they learned what to spray on the chicken halves to season them and keep them moist (mixture of water, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper) and how often to turn the improvised-out-of-chicken-wire baskets to cook the chicken evenly without burning it. It was truly a sweltering job but the camaderie and teamwork were rewarding. Their faces would be black and greasy with smoke smeared with sweat, my father's among them.
The bbqs were a success -- money was raised, families had fun, the town met as a community. Over the years the bbqs got bigger as a parade was added along with more community activities. Now the one idea has become Newfield Day. The Public Library sells peach related desserts; the Business Alliance holds a Chinese Auction; the local dance studio has a recital; local marching bands participate. It's summertime Americana at its best. Any midwesterner would feel at home even though this is New Jersey.
The Fire Company debated whether to pull out from Newfield Day this year as they feel so beleaguered by the actions and ordinances of the Town Council. The vote was last night; I held my breath. I just couldn't imagine no chicken bbq again (last year's was cancelled due to damage from derecho). The company chose family, kids, and community. I am relieved and proud. They took the high road. Well done.