Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

Valerie Bando-Meinken

With more than 350 tickets sold ahead of time, the Lions Club of East Hampton was geared up to prepare meals for over 700 people at its annual BBQ at the American Legion in Amagansett on Saturday, July 14. Under a pristine summer sky, volunteer Lions, their family members, friends, and members of the community took their places early in the morning. By 11 AM, the grounds of the American Legion were already transformed with canopies, tables, and chairs awaiting a hungry crowd.

Toward the back of the Legion property, another crew sweated under the rising temperatures moving the huge grills into place, scrubbing them clean, filling them with charcoal, and firing them up in preparation for cooking the 700 split chickens that would be the main course.

The preparation was endless. One crew of helpers spent several hours shucking 800 ears of corn while another group dipped the 700 pieces of chicken into Lion Russell Calemmo’s secret recipe barbecue sauce and placed each piece on the racks for cooking. At another table, 40 watermelons were being sliced to be added with each meal. At other stations, 400 pounds of red potatoes were being cooked, 800 dinner rolls were being prepared, and seven cases of David’s chocolate brownies were being sliced up for dessert.

In the meantime, Lion Fred Overton arrived with several bushels of clams and began the tedious task of shucking the hundreds of clams that he had painstakingly caught himself. Bostwick’s, one of the many food donors, supplied its famous clam chowder for the event. It arrived steaming hot and was made available at Overton’s table. Coolers filled with ice offered soda, water, iced tea, and beer to quench the thirst of the hundreds of guests were also stationed nearby.

Before long, the Potter-Tekulsky Band began setting up their equipment amidst the heat and smoke from the grills; the chefs had the chickens well on their way to being done. Every aspect of the Lions Club event seemed well coordinated. Some diners came and took their dinners home, while others stayed to enjoy the music and meet friends and family, filling the picnic tables, which were decorated with red and white checkered tablecloths.

The coordinated efforts of the Lions ensured that donated dinners and leftovers were packaged and prepared for transport to the East Hampton Food Pantry. Proceeds from the BBQ go back to the community in the many programs that the Lions Club sponsor, including the Long Island Eye Bank, the Lions eyeglass program, and various children and youth programs. For more information about the Lions Club of East Hampton, you can visit the website at

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