Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

The McAbee Pigfitters Cook Barbecue to Raise Money for Various Causes

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

The McAbee Pigfitters Cook Barbecue to Raise Money for Various Causes

Article excerpt

A gust of steam and the scent of barbecued meat rise from the round-top, stainless steel smoker they call the coffin cooker where the poultry and pork rest in aluminum foil splotched with drops of a red-brown liquid secret.

The McAbee Pigfitters never get tired of that smell or the taste of the fruits of their labor.

The Pigfitters, a group of McAbee Construction employees, cook Boston butts, chicken and ribs about 20 times a year for employees on job sites, for customers on football game weekends and for charity events.

"It started back in 1984 as a tool to go out and feed men on our job sites as well as do charitable functions," said Mike Copeland, a McAbee employee and a Pigfitter of 30 years.

Copeland said Harold McAbee, then vice president of the company, started the Pigfitters, naming the barbecuing team as such "as a cross between a pig cooker and a pipe fitter," because pipe fitting is a big part of the business.

When McAbee died from brain cancer in 1997, Copeland said the team partnered with the DCH Foundation Help and Hope Patient Assistance Fund, a fund that helps patients of the Lewis and Faye Manderson Cancer Center, as a way to give back to a cause close to their hearts.

"Their dedication means that our physicians, patients and staff have resources in the fight against cancer that many other centers just can't offer," said Molly Ingram, vice president of development for the DCH Foundation.

The team was no stranger to cooking for a cause, providing food for organizations like the Boy Scouts and the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center among others, but DCH BBQ & Blues became their largest charity event, in which money raised assists financially strapped patients with medications, household bills and transportation.

And the Pigfitters' cooking rig, built in honor of McAbee, has been at the event every year since 1998, feeding up to and sometimes more than 1,000 people with about 350 pounds of Boston butts, 330 pounds of ribs, 200 pounds of chicken and 7 gallons of a homemade, spicy barbecue sauce to complement the sweetness of the pecan wood used to cook with. …

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