For many residents, Fourth of July celebrations aren’t complete without throwing some meat on the grill.
“It’s been a family tradition for as long as I can remember,” said Judy Barlow, a 33-year-old Gainesville resident. “We always have an all-day barbecue. My whole family comes — aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, everybody. We talk a little, laugh a little and eat a lot.”
Butchers over at J&J Foods on Limestone Parkway in Gainesville have come to expect an increased demand for meat during the week leading up to the fourth.
“We go through a lot of ribs, a lot of ground beef and a lot of chicken,” said Jim South, the store’s meat and seafood department manager.
To keep up with that demand, South’s staff have had to more than triple their usual order. Instead of the two weekly deliveries totalling 8,000 to 12,000 pounds of meat, during the week before the holiday, the department gets about 40,000 to 60,000 pounds of meat.
“We cut it all up here,” South said. “So we stay pretty busy.”
According to employees at Green’s Grocery on Riverside Drive in Gainesville, ribs are also one of the big sellers during the week leading up to the holiday — with special orders of cooked ribs tripling.
“We try to order extra (ribs) so that we don’t run out. We also get a lot of orders for steaks — ribeyes, New York strips and filets,” said Douglas Mincey, a Green’s employee. “We make our own ground beef and we deliver a lot of that to restaurants, so we have to make sure we don’t run out of that either during the holiday weekend.”
While many gatherings will feature sides like baked beans and potato salad, the star of most gatherings is the meat.
“Everybody has their favorite — my wife always has to have chicken, my son wants ribs and my daughter pitches a fit if we don’t have hot dogs,” said Jim Fields, a 48-year-old Cornelia resident.
“Somehow, I always get stuck on the grill, but I love having my family around me, so I don’t mind.”