PERRY — Residents would not let a longtime summer event in Perry get canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic like so many other summer events across the region.

The Rotary Club of Perry and Pioneer Historical Association have hosted an annual chicken barbecue at the Pioneer Log Cabin for nearly 30 years, but this year organizers had to make some changes. They instead turned it into a drive-thru event this past Sunday.

“I would not miss this no matter what and I am so happy that they were able to continue doing this,” said Perry resident Rick Fish. “It is a great fundraiser and it is a great organization.”

The barbecue fundraiser has accompanied the annual Pioneer Picnic — itself 148 years old — for decades.

This year’s event shifted locations from the log cabin at Silver Lake to the Hole in the Wall Restaurant on Standpipe Road. Volunteers inside the restaurant prepared the meals and packaged them for additional volunteers to deliver to people in their cars in front of the restaurant.

“Usually it is on the site where the log cabin is on Walker Road but because of the conditions of this year we rearranged things a little,” said organizer Eric Parker. “Instead of having a big picnic and a big day we are having a barbecue separate from the other activities.”

An evening concert closed out the day.

The barbecue began at noon and was to continue until the food was gone. The menu included chicken, potatoes, beans, cole slaw, cookie and a roll.

For many volunteers helping out at the event has become an annual tradition which includes many area residents and Rotarians.

“I cook the salt potatoes out back and my wife out here is working out front to help put the dinners together,” Parker said.

Cars were lined up on both ends of the Standpipe Road, a strong show of support for the Rotary Club and the work that it does.

“I want to help support the Rotary Club and everything that they do. They are very important to our community,” said Perry resident Sam Monteleone.

The motto of Rotary is, “Service Above Self,” noted volunteer Jeff Fitch, “so we aim to give back with everything that we can.”

Event organizers said they hoped to raise between $2,500 to $3,000, with most of it going back to help the community.

“We raise money and it all goes back into public things like the Village Park, the beach project on Silver Lake — Rotary put in over $100,000 just on that project,” said Fitch.

Another event the Rotary Club just completed was an effort aimed at helping local businesses.

“We just did something through the school where we gave people $100 gift certificates that people could turn in a local business and it was nearly $50,000,” said Parker.

The barbecue fundraiser was one of the few events that Parker said they were still able to hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many events being canceled, organizers said they had to come up with a new way of doing things, while still keeping people safe.

“We are wearing masks, keeping our hands clean and maintaining all of the social distant guidelines,” said volunteer Mike Bellamy.

In addition to enjoying a hot meal people also enjoyed a free outdoor concert later in the evening at the Pioneer Log Cabin, by the Biggest Little Band, featuring the Quigley family. At intermission, Ernie Lawrence spoke about how the flu pandemic of 1918 affected Perry.

“We aim to give back with everything that we can. We feel that it is a privilege. It is not something that we have to do but something that we get to do,” said Fitch.

This was the 29th year of the barbecue, and it marked the 148th year of the Pioneer Picnic.

Volunteers said if people could not make the barbecue they can still support the Rotary Club by contacting them at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1