View Mobile Site

Lathrop gearing up for big barbecue festival

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED July 2, 2012 1:57 a.m.

LATHROP – The smell of barbecued chicken and ribs wafting through the air.

Dozens of family members and friends taking pictures of people attempting to scarf down the most hot dogs, slices of pizza or pies.

And the sense of a community coming together for a day of fun outdoors that benefits local seniors by helping underwrite the programs that not only helps keep them active, but provides a valuable service by connecting them with other seniors in the area.

It’s exactly what Lathrop Senior Center Manager Chris Lawrence had in mind when he dreamed up a barbecue completion four years ago. It is an event that has become a cornerstone of summer activity for area residents and a major source of revenue for the Senior Advisory Commission.

He’s hoping that by widening out the offerings at Valverde Park this year – the event is scheduled for July 21 and will kick-off at 9 a.m. – the event will draw upwards of 1,000 people from Lathrop and the surrounding communities to enjoy the good food and the friendly atmosphere.

And seeing it grow into what it has become is a badge that Lawrence wears grandly.

“I’m proud to see it grow every year. I hope that it’s something that outlives me,” Lawrence said. “I’d love to see it maxed out and become something that people look forward to every year.”

Even though the grill masters are the central focus of the event, other activities and events planned to incorporate the whole family are going to be offered as a way to make sure that everybody can have a good time.

Inside of the Scott Brooks Gymnasium there will be live music, vendors and dance teams performing while bands play their live, loud sets out in the park behind the memorial area.

A dunk tank will also be on hand – Lawrence is trying to secure local dignitaries to serve as willing victims to take the plunge – as will demonstrations and performances by dog teams and belly dancers.

It isn’t a typical day outside, Lawrence said, and it’s that kind of approach that has made the event a success.

The grillers, some of them active competitors that travel to showcase their unique skills with cooking and preparation, use the event as a warm-up for what is a long summer season of standing over the coals. Because the event isn’t sanctioned, anybody can participate – allowing local hopefuls to come mix it up with those that smoke and char for a living.

In the end, however, it’s a chance to raise money that will help fund the “trips and tours” programs offered through the senior center – gambling trips to places like Jackson Rancheria and Black Oak Casino won’t be included – that will give participants a chance to take trips to the Bay Area for functions and gatherings.

“The biggest problem for a lot of seniors is isolation – I worked for Meals on Wheels for a lot of years and the depression that comes from isolation is a big issue,” Lawrence said. “Getting them into a community setting where they’re doing things is a big thing.”

Participants in the grilling contest, as well as volunteers for the dunk tank and other activities, are still being sought for the July 21 event. For additional information call (209) 941-7380 or stop by the Senior Center at 15707 5th Street.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...