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Shelter Island Fire Department gearing up for Saturday’s Chicken BBQ

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Just one of the many happy residents who attended the Shelter Island Fire Department's Chicken Barbecue last year
BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Just one of the many happy residents at last year’s Shelter Island Fire Department’s Chicken Barbecue.

Volunteer have been working at Fireman’s Field this week to set up a massive tent and cooking facilities for Saturday’s 53rd Annual Shelter Island Fire Department Chicken Barbecue.

Chief Greg Sulahian estimated it takes about 50 man hours to set up for the event and that doesn’t include the auxiliary members who will be cooking up the special “Harelegger potato salad” so prized by Islanders. In years past, it has taken close to 250 pounds of potatoes to make the salad.

Chief Sulahian and his fellow firefighters will be cooking about 1,900 chickens and 1,500 to 2,000 ears of corn, he said.
Leftover food is donated to Camp Quinipet and several other charities.

It’s a lot of work, especially since as soon as the event ends Saturday night, department members begin taking down the tent, tables and chairs and sending them to the Center firehouse for the following week’s August 27 Country Fair.

“It takes a lot of effort, but as long as people are interested, we’ll keep doing it,” the chief said. As long as the department isn’t losing money, it’s worth the work, he added.

The event typically attracts between 1,750 and 2,000 people each summer and, weather permitting, there’s no reason this year’s barbecue should be any different.

The weatherman is predicting generally sunny skies with a drop in the humidity and only a 20 percent chance of a stray shower.

Although the Island may be suffering from a drought, this is one day when everyone hopes the skies remain clear.

As in past years, the Chicken Barbecue will feature fire-grilled chicken, fresh corn on the cob, that Harelegger potato salad and much more, according to organizers. Take out is available.

The event begins at 4 p.m. and runs through 8 p.m., although cooking will start about 10 a.m. Saturday.

Tickets can be purchased at Schmidt’s, the Heights Pharmacy, Piccozzi’s Service Station and Shelter Island Hardware or can be purchased online through brownpapertickets.com.

The cost is $25 for adults and $15 for children.

Proceeds help to fund the all-volunteer fire department for items not covered by the fire district’s budget.