TWO COLLEGE STUDENTS help flip the big trays of grilling chicken during the 2016 annual barbecue.								      Ripon Area Fire District photo
TWO COLLEGE STUDENTS help flip the big trays of grilling chicken during the 2016 annual barbecue. Ripon Area Fire District photo

     LEE JESS REMEMBERS looking at now-retired firefighter Jeff Hopp — and thinking the man was crazy.

     “We all looked at him like he was goofy because we were like, ‘Why would you want to have a barbecue [in March]?’” Lee said. “And that was his point: Nobody’s outside cooking chicken on the grill for themselves [in winter].”

     Turns out, Jeff knew what he was talking about. In fact, his brainchild has outlasted him on the department: less than three months after the former

     Ripon Area Fire District captain retired, the department will be holding its 21st-annual chicken barbecue.

     And it just keeps getting stronger.

     The annual barbecue grossed nearly $10,000 last year, easily out-pacing the usual $5,000 to $8,000 a year to help the department purchase “extras” that help keep Ripon safe. ...

     WANT TO EXPERIENCE A taste of the (tasty) chaos?

     Tickets remain for this year’s barbecue — $9 a meal in advance, $10 at the door.

     “[Webster’s Marketplace] has tickets; we have tickets here. Any fire department member [should have them as well],” Lee said, adding they can be obtained by calling the fire station, too, at 745-2262.

     To read the entire column, see the March 2, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.