St. John Valley

Friends of St. Francis hosts sold-out drive-through chicken barbecue

ST. FRANCIS, Maine — The Friends of St. Francis’ annual fall chicken barbecue was as big a fundraising hit as ever on Saturday despite a revamped format to protect the public from COVID-19.

Friends of St. Francis President Cindy Jandreau said the group had been planning for about a month how to put together the safest event possible.

The 2020 barbecue was a departure from last year when hundreds of people streamed into the St. Francis Community Center to enjoy their meals together.

This year, social distancing was a priority as masked kitchen volunteers delivered meals to vehicles lined up outside the community center in a drive-through fashion.

Volunteers from Fort Kent, St. John and Allagash helped out at the barbecue, just as they do every year.

“We did it all together,” Jandreau said. “I think it turned out fantastic. It was more work beforehand but went very smoothly. We had an assembly line; it was a lot safer for everyone.”

Linda Deprey serves up some chicken barbecue to Monica Jandreau at the Friends of St. Francis Fall Annual Chicken Barbecue on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (Jessica Potila)

All 320 chicken tickets sold out ahead of the event. Each meal, at $12 per ticket, included barbecued chicken smoked on an outdoor grill, baked potato, corn on the cob, coleslaw, homemade roll, chocolate cake and a beverage.

Friends of St. Francis holds two barbecues a year to raise funds for local activities including Halloween and Christmas celebrations free of charge to children and their families.

But the main purpose of the annual barbecues is to bring the community together, a task the group is committed to maintaining despite the pandemic that is keeping people physically apart, at least for now.

This chicken barbecue profit will support the maintenance of U.S flags in the town, but the Friends of St. Francis group also plans to continue with their annual Halloween trunk or treat which provides candy to children — modified as necessary to keep people safe.

“Unless things change we cannot have the party inside because of the COVID restrictions,” Jandreau said. “We usually get about 100 kids, plus their parents. For Christmas, we are attempting to come up with a safe event, but we are not sure yet what we can do.”

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