The North Bend Eagle


Marvin Bauman and Richard Bollwitt, both of Seward, are members of the American Legion Post 340 who took their turns serving chicken at the annual barbecue on [Aug. 10, 2014].

Legion cooks, serves for 60th year

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 8/13/14

The American Legion Post 340 of Morse Bluff has been holding a barbecue for 60 years. It started as a beef barbecue, but it’s been a chicken barbecue for the majority of the time.

The chicken is still grilled on an open pit behind the American Legion hall. The barbecue used to be an all day affair. It was “followed by an afternoon of games, contests and local talent” according to the 1987 Morse Bluff history book.

JoAnn Johnson did some investigating into the history of the barbecue and put up a display at the Legion Hall for all to view on Sunday. The first article about a barbecue was in 1954, but no reason was given for having a barbecue with a two day celebration. The article said, “This was the first celebration that Morse Bluff has held in a number of years and the members of the Legion were going ‘all out’ to make it a big one.”

Tom Vopalensky was looking at Johnson’s display when he recognized himself as a 12-year-old plucking a chicken in a contest in 1968.

“It was on a semi-trailer flat bed truck,” Vopalensky said. “We got the chicken from a bucket of hot water and held it in a box to pluck. There were feathers all over.”

Vopalensky received second place to Joey Nemec, the winner who was able to get his chicken done the fastest.

Through the years the barbecue has seen many variations. It has been part of a two-day event with a carnival, had contests, the Offutt Air Force Base SAC band perform, seen 4,000 people attend, fed 1,500, had Tiger the Dog entertain, with amateur contests each night. But in after all her research, Johnson said the barbecue has never been rained out. There have been cool or drizzly days, but no cancellations.

This year’s weather was overcast most of the day, but still a nice. The entertainment was provided by The Polka Dudes and the North Bend Area Community Band.

The American Legion Auxilary sold pie and root beer floats to top off the chicken meal.

“It’s a great hometown event,” Johnson said. “A great tradition.”

The coals were started at 6 a.m. Sunday with the first chickens on the grills by 8:30 a.m. Over 750 halves of chicken grilled and served this year. Johnson said that they sold out of chicken but at least there was enough for the workers to eat, which isn’t always the case.

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