QUINCY -- Terry Obert has been to every Knights of Columbus barbecue for more than half a century.
The 64-year-old fourth-degree K of C member started as a child, showing up early to help his father -- an electrician and also a K of C member -- set up for the large annual event. Since he became a member more than 30 years ago, he has worked at each barbecue with his wife, Darlene. The couple look forward to the festive atmosphere each year.
"You run into people, and you make friends you never had before," Obert said. "We were brought up with it, and now our grandkids are doing the same."
The barbecue has become the activity that brings many who have moved away back to Quincy and brings many families together one last time before the summer is over, Obert said.
"It's amazing how many people come back year after year," Obert said. "It's a good family atmosphere. I wouldn't do without it."
Nancy McLaughlin and her family were in Quincy from Chicago for the DJ Venvertloh Memorial Golf Fundraiser on Saturday. The K of C barbecue offered an outing for the entire family the day before.
"It's nice to be able to be with family," she said. "Events like this keep everybody young. It reminds you of your childhood and gives you that nostalgic feeling again."
This year marks the 76th K of C barbecue. What began as a small Saturday fundraiser has transformed over the years into a massive four-day affair that Grand Knight Mark Holtschlag estimated brings in between 5,000 and 10,000 people to the K of C grounds and has unofficially come to mark the end of summer in Quincy.
"This has grown from a small thing years ago to a great big deal," Holtschag said. "We've had 76 years of ideas to work with."
The barbecue recently underwent a structural shift that expanded the carnival's offerings and relocated the alcohol areas. In the past, festivities have been coordinated by two chairmen, but this year, 17 officers were assigned jobs. The effect, Holtschlag said, was more supervision.
"The carnival is about one-third bigger," he said. "The carnival has bigger rides this year, bigger than we've ever had, and there's at least three or four new rides that have never been here before."
The barbecue has also seen a renewed focus as a fundraiser for local charitable organizations.
"We're a fraternal organization, and our goal is charity," Holtschlag said.
The recipient of the barbecue's fundraising this year is Birthright of Quincy.
Ten years ago, Birthright was without money and considered closing its doors. Birthright President Patty Adam attended a Knights of Columbus meeting, urging the chapter to support her organization before it was too late.
"That made all the difference for us to be able to stay open," Adam said. "We're all volunteers and run exclusively on donations from the community. If it wasn't for Knights of Columbus, we wouldn't be in Quincy anymore."
Birthright has been a mainstay at the K of C barbecue for several years, but this is its first time as the fundraiser's charity. Money raised will go to funding an ultrasound machine for the organization.
"I've been a Birthright volunteer for 36 years, and I never, in my wildest dreams, thought we would have the opportunity to be able to offer free ultrasounds to our clients," Adam said. "This kind of financial, spiritual and personal support is amazing."