The United Methodist Church will host its 42nd annual Ox Roast beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 28, at the church on Greenmount Cemetery Lane.
The event, which has been known to attract close to 400 people, includes a flea market, rummage sale, bake shop, auction and of course the charbroiled beef that gives the event its name.
“It’s the church’s largest fundraiser and its biggest community event,” said Elaine Jones, a member of the Ox Roast committee. The committee began organizing this year’s roast a few weeks after last year’s event and it typically involves the coordination of several groups.
“This is really a community event,” said Jones.
Members of the committee line up all the logistics, determining how much meat to order, how many ears of corn to buy, where to get firewood, as well as assigning different tasks to volunteers, of which there are many.
Besides church members, the Ox Roast is buoyed by the volunteerism of the local Boy Scouts who help set up tables, arrange auction items on the church’s lawn, and load and unload firewood.
Jones said they will be joined by several honor students at Whitehall High School who will serve meals and local Girl Scouts who will be involved as well.
And that doesn’t include the small but diligent crew of cornhuskers, who last year peeled the husk and silk off approximately 1,000 ears of corn in a little more than three hours, and the volunteers who spend several hours leading up the meal cooking sides and desserts.
And on the day of the event, hungry patrons, many from beyond the confines of Whitehall, turn out to enjoy the fruit of those labors.
“People come from all over,” said Jones, who added that they are even more optimistic this year with the event coinciding with the Whitehall Quilt Show at the high school.
When the event was held for the first time, volunteers actually cooked an entire ox. They would begin the day before and cooked through the night, but Jones said a roast actually caught fire one year, and while it was saved, the decision was made to have individual roasts which are purchased annually from Green Mountain Produce.
This year’s event will begin at 10 a.m. with the opening of the flea market.
The flea market will feature a variety of rummage sale items, as well as children’s items, collectibles, baked goods and Rada cutlery.
Attendees will also have the chance to bid on antiques, gift certificates to local businesses and other items during the auction at 1 p.m. Nicholas Deutsch will serve as auctioneer.
Jones said the church is still looking for more items for the auction and rummage sale. She said they can be dropped off at the church on Sunday after Mass at 11:30 a.m. and additional times can be arranged.
The highlight of the day, the actual roast, will be served beginning at noon and will continue until 6 p.m. or sold out.
Jones said the biggest difference this year is the meal will be served “family style” and not in a buffet fashion.
A snack shop, featuring drinks and other food, will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Admission to the event is free, but the cost of dinner is $11 for adults and all take-outs, $5 for children ages five to 11, and free for anyone younger than five.
For more information, or to schedule a time to drop off items for the sale, call the church at 499-0851.