COLUMBIA — The Riggs Union Church's annual Beef and Mutton BBQ is a "well-oiled machine," Meg Hegemann, the pastor, said. After 50 years, church volunteers are familiar with their jobs for the day.
At 4 a.m. Sept. 20, Glen Lipscomb and Gary Bradley began cooking the meat in cast-iron bowls in a field across the street from the church, which has an average worship attendance of about 30 people.
Dorothy Lipscomb's job was to make fudge for the auction, to be held later in the evening. Over the past few years, a bidding war for that fudge has grown. This year, a single plate went for $170.
Helen and Buford Kanatzar operated the ticket table.
This year, about 400 people passed by the Kanatzars's table, spending $10 for a plate of beef or mutton with all the fixings. Buford Kanatzar joked with people as they pass by, his laugh bellowing from deep in his belly. Women inside kept the line moving by spooning out mounds of slaw and slabs of cake.
Around back, next to the cemetery, Nancy Stack got the greasy job of cleaning the pans and food bucketswith a hose and bottle of dish soap. Stack didn't mind. As she and others explained, the barbecue is the best event the church has to financially sustain the small congregation year-round. It's also a time for people to see everyone.
Stack spent 25 years away from Riggs before returning. Every year she was gone, she said, she would plan her vacations around the barbecue.
"This is the one time a year everyone knows we can get together and enjoy each other's fellowship," Stack said.