Pioneers Inc. of Hopkinsville, KY
Summer wouldn't be complete without barbecue, and I love the barbecue made by Pioneers, Inc. in Hopkinsville. Keely drives by their billboard on North Main Street as she goes to work, so she keeps me updated on their barbecue schedule -- always on Friday, but not every Friday.
Pioneers Inc. is a busy volunteer group, and barbecue is one of their fund-raising activities. The Pioneers are locally famous for delicious, homestyle food. If you ever have the good fortune to be invited to an event that they cater, you would be a fool to refuse the invitation.
The line for barbecue at the Pioneers' Smith Pavilion is always an interesting cross-section of the local population. A volunteer behind the window at left takes orders and payments. Then the customers wait a few minutes for their orders to be handed to them through the window at right. It's not a fast process, but the line does move, and the wait is absolutely worthwhile.
The menu has a variety of sandwiches, sides, and meats for carry-out or eat-in (at the picnic tables.) I usually get a pound or two of the barbecued pork to take home. Keely and Taurus like to keep some Pioneers barbecue sauce on hand.
At work, earlier in the day that I took these pictures, an elderly lady told me that she was expecting overnight guests. She described all the work she had done to get her house ready, and I asked her if she was doing a lot of cooking, too. "No," she said. "I've already made potato salad, and I'm going to buy a pound of barbecue."
"Are you going to get some Pioneers?" I asked her. "Oh, I wish I could! That would be so nice!" she said. "Are they cooking this weekend?" I assured her that they were, and she thanked me profusely. She even came by a few days later to thank me again. "Thank the Pioneers, not me," I told her. That's the sort of respect that Pioneers' barbecue gets around here.
Pioneers Inc., a civic group of Christian black men, was organized in 1952. The income from their projects goes to college scholarships, Christmas gifts and food baskets for needy families, and other community projects and needs. I think of their barbecue as one more nice thing that they do for the community.