The South Gulf Fire Rescue volunteers were thankful for Friday’s sunny weather after having spent all of the day before smoking and slow roasting Boston butts in a storm that produced 11 inches of rain at the tip of Cape San Blas.
“You should have seen it yesterday,” said South Gulf’s Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Foy. “That storm was almost like a hurricane, but all of these guys were still out here.”
The show must go on, rain or shine, Foy said – especially with hundreds of hungry customers to feed.
South Gulf’s annual Memorial Day weekend Boston butt roast is one of the fire station’s largest annual fundraisers. This year they roasted 360 pork butts, which sold out weeks prior to their May 26 start date, and charged $45 for each.
They’ve been hosting the fundraiser for nearly two decades, and the volunteers have the process down to a science. They rub the butt in seasoning, smoke it for three hours, wrap the hot butt in foil, roast it again until a meat thermometer is easily inserted and internal temperature reaches between 180 and 200 degrees. Then, they remove the butts from the smoker, wrap them in plastic bags, place them in a cooler and allow them to sit and tenderize.
They made exactly 120 butts each day of the three day event, with each butt spending hours in one of the department’s two smokers.
“We used to have one cooker, and we would get here at about 5 o’clock in the morning,” said Charles Radcliff, who has been volunteering for the butt roast since 2007. “And sometimes it was 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock before we got out of here.”
“This all is a fundraiser for the fire department, and the community really supports this stuff.”
The money raised through the fundraiser supports the fire department’s associated 501C-3, which covers costs for services that cannot be paid for with county tax dollars.
These services include medical first responders, the beach flag safety team, the water rescue team and any associated pieces of equipment, like water rescue crafts or AEDs.
The event gets bigger every year, Foy said. “We have to thank our community for that. Without their support, the things we do wouldn’t be possible.”