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Funkstown fire company fires up the open pit

August 01, 2006|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

FUNKSTOWN - Firefighters from Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. 10 were called to duty before dawn Saturday morning, July 29. They labored continuously into early afternoon as temperatures sizzled and smoke rolled around them.

The task at hand wasn't fighting a fire. It was cooking over one.

Over the past six years, the group has become known for its open-pit barbecue fundraisers. Tasty pit beef sandwiches and juicy barbecued chickens are a couple of the main attractions.

Curtis Hull, 36, is a Funkstown firefighter whose commitment to barbecuing chicken at 180 degrees for the fundraiser has earned him the title of "assistant head clucker" among those who frequent the event.

"Sometimes we can't see each other across the grill it gets so smoky," Hull said.

Eric Schminkey of Funkstown is the firefighter known as the "head clucker."

Schminkey said he organizes the events, ordering supplies and overseeing delivery. He said each fundraiser brings in roughly $1,000.

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"Over the years we've developed quite a following. The townspeople really look forward to it. Every year (the fundraiser) grows," Schminkey said.

The company typically holds the barbecues the last Saturday of the month from March through October, with some flexibility depending upon the needs of the company. Proceeds go to the group's general operating budget.

Hull said he thinks the event has been so successful simply because people like good food off the grill.

"They smell that smoke from miles away and it just draws them near," he said. "They just love it."

While it is doubtful that people smell the smoke all the way down the road in Boonsboro, Merrick Semler, 53, of Boonsboro, became a regular attendee after his first barbecue.

"I've been making a monthly trip here with my grandsons for about two years," Semler said. "I just stopped one time and found out how good the food is, so I just kept on coming back."

Semler and his grandson Evan Richmond, 5, also of Boonsboro, treated themselves to both the barbecued chicken and the pit beef.

Ann Perkins, 64, of Hagerstown, and her son Ernest Wolfle, 38, of Rockville, Md., say they like to attend the event whenever they can. Besides getting good food at a good price, Perkins says she feels a sense of gratitude toward the company for its fire and rescue work.

"They came out to the house once when my husband choked on my really dry Thanksgiving turkey. They were right out there, so I feel like I like to support them," Perkins said.

An Aug. 26 barbecue will be a special event with added features, including a grocery raffle and plastic duck race down Antietam Creek.

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