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Annual Chicken Tradition To Blast Off Again at Serbian Picnic Grounds in Weirton

An annual chicken event that’s been a local tradition for decades is about to “blast” off later this month.

And that will make stomachs happy, and so, too, members of the Serbian Men’s Club.

Their highly anticipated “chicken blasts” held at the Serbian Picnic Grounds of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church begin on May 26 and will continue each Wednesday through the end of August.

Orders for the hearth-cooked, slow-roasted poultry may be called in from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to 304-748-9866 the day of the sales, but volunteer Jon Greiner offers a word of caution here, noting that last year, the chickens were gone in the first hour.

Orders must be picked up by 6 p.m. at the site located off Kings Creek Road. The price remains steady at $8.

The chicken blasts began in 1969, so the consensus goes, and a group of eight to 12 volunteers work them each week. They’re sponsored by the Serbian Men’s Club.

“Proceeds go to keeping up the picnic grounds and to the Serbian church in Steubenville,” Greiner noted.

The chickens take three to four hours to cook over a wood fire, a procedure honed to a tried-and-true routine.

“Many people have asked what special seasonings are used, but only salt and pepper are used,” Greiner said.

Not surprisingly, the 2020 chicken blasts got off to an abnormal start, thanks to the pandemic. But virus or not, sales were brisk.

“Not knowing how many people would show up, we filled up with orders quickly the first week and ordered the maximum amount of 400 each week after that,” Greiner said. “Often we were sold out in the first hour. Being an outdoor venue made it safer. Still we didn’t realize the tremendous response we would get. People ‘flocked’ to the chicken blasts,” Greiner added, apologizing for the pun.

“I don’t know if it was because it was one of the few places to gather, and it’s an outdoor venue, but it was a huge success,” Greiner said. “In fact, despite missing three weeks, it’s believed to be the largest amount of chickens cooked in nearly 20 years.”

As for this year’s fundraiser, Greiner explained that West Virginia has lifted all restrictions on gatherings, so that’s not a concern. “The CDC says customers will be safe outdoors without masks if they’ve been vaccinated, and Hancock County has a great vaccination percentage. All we can do is recommend. Customers won’t be required to wear masks.”

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