Lake Wateree celebrates the 4th with food, fireworks and fun

Lake Wateree residents Peggy & Roy Lee taking orders at Dutchman Creek Volunteer Fire Department July 4 barbecue sale.

All around Lake Wateree, residents, family and friends could be seen gathered together to celebrate our country’s Independence Day. Family members were swimming, boating, fishing, water skiing and jet skiing. The area was permeated with the wonderful odor of steaks on the grill, hamburgers and hotdogs. But not everyone wanted to spend the time cooking and those folks knew they could depend on the Dutchman Creek Volunteer Fire Department for exceptional barbecue. It is a busy time for the firefighters as the equipment and trucks must be moved from the bay, cleaning to be done and tables set up. The tables were decorated with white paper with a large flag hanging across the front, giving a patriotic flair to the firehouse.

The line began to form as early as 10 a.m. Early sales of Smithfield Boston butts and bulk barbecue started at 9:30. Many had telephoned to reserve the $30 butts in the week prior to July 4 knowing how quickly they sell out each year. The firefighters and volunteers in a period of just three hours had sold out the butts, barbecue and rice. The barbecue plates, in addition to the meat, consisted of rice with hash, coleslaw, pickle spear, bun and iced tea. The ever popular sandwich plate was also available. Hash and barbecue was sold in bulk. Once again the DCVFD was able to keep most of the prices down so they are affordable to all. Only the hash had a slight rise in price this year. By morning’s end 204 pounds of barbecue had been sold. This is equivalent to 34 butts. The amount of hash sold was 104 quarts (or 26 gallons), 100 plates of barbecue, 26 sandwiches and 51 butts. Since they ran out so early this year, the DCVFD hopes to add 10 more butts to the grill next year and make more hash.

“This was the department’s most successful year so far,”’ said firefighter Bill McDonald.

This annual event is the firefighters’ only fund raiser of the year. It is not yet known where the day’s proceeds will be used. Where it is most needed will be determined at a later date. In the meantime, the proceeds go to an operating account to purchase items not provided by the County, according to Chief Ned Gwin.

The cookers of the barbecue this year were firefighters Jimmy Claxton, Jerry Martin, ‘Bug’ Jones and WHOA chairman Jerry Nealy. It is a joint effort on the part of all the men and women of the DCVFD. Not just the barbecue, but the rice, hash and tea as well. Jones recently returned from another ‘Builders for Christ’ trip last month in Mississippi, as he has previous years. Many of the volunteers serving the food are the same ones who volunteer each year. For those who had not yet purchased the reflective address sign, they were available for sale at the fire station also. These addresses are easily seen by the firefighters should they be called to your home in an emergency, when minutes count. A box for donations is always present and the people of Lake Wateree are very generous when it comes to those who protect their homes and property. This was the 27th year for the annual barbecue sale. The only year that was missed was during the time the three bridges were under construction.

It was a very hot day with temperatures in the high 90s, but the line of satisfied customers who return year after year reached out to the parking lot. Folks came by auto, truck, motorcycle and golf cart, coming from all areas of the lake, the State Park and from as far away as Great Falls and Columbia. The fireworks display that has given pleasure to the lake residents and guests for so many years took place later in the evening. The site for this was at Island Eight, just above Clear Water Cove Marina and could be seen from any part of the lower lake. An earlier fireworks display was held at Dutchman Creek on June 30 by Mike Taylor.

This barbecue sale requires the effort of many people, mostly firefighters, a number of volunteers, and required many hours to make it the success it is. It is good to see the people of Lake Wateree support the men and women of the DCVFD who risk their lives each and every time they attend a fire. They are ever ready to heed the call. With the new substation now open, the firefighters are spread a little thin and more volunteers are needed. If you feel this is something you could do, please contact Chief Ned Gwin at the fire station at 803-482-2636.

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