60th Annual Northwestern Michigan College BBQ Raises Thousands

The Northwestern Michigan College barbecue has been going on for more than half a century.

Every year, people from all over the city gather on the college’s main campus for a day of food and fun activities.

And the proceeds–all helping to fund various projects around the college.

“Well, the Oleson family Jerry and France’s Oleson decided sixty years ago that they give back to this community college to make it what it is,” said Diana Fairbanks with NMC Public Relations.

What started as a small barbecue to help fund Northwestern Michigan College is now something Traverse City looks forward to every year.

“Now we have the third generation of Olesons on our barbecue board and they continue to help make this barbecue and this college a success.”

…By donating all the food for today’s barbecue — thousands of pounds worth.

One former NMC professor shows visitors the Model A event founder Gerald Oleson used to drive to pick up vegetables for his store.

“I’ve been volunteering for 26 years and the reason is because of the fact that it’s a great organization a great college and a great chance for young people,” said volunteer Tom Scheffer.

It’s the sixth year in a row that the event is waste free. Volunteers are stationed all over by the garbage cans letting people know where to dispose of their trash.

The event’s grown and changed over more than half a century but for many–memories of the past remain strong.

There were arcade games and a group playing bag pipes in addition to food.

And one attraction in particular was popular…

“We got to sit on the buffalo,” said Traverse City resident Jana Overholt and friend Julie Nitez.

“It was like a fuzzy statue. I got to sit on it,” said Traverse City resident Brandon Bourgeois.

The barbecue is a year-round effort that takes over 500 volunteers to pull off.

“Luckily for us, we have a dedicated group of volunteers who start planning the day after the previous BBQ,” said Fairbanks.

So tomorrow, they’ll be at work.