Quincy News

Changing focus: K of C Barbecue taking closer look at alcohol sales, expanding carnival

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 20, 2017 6:55 am Updated: Apr. 20, 2017 9:48 am

QUINCY -- There could be some noticeable changes at this year's K of C Barbecue fundraiser.

Organizers say the annual four-day event in mid-August, which signals the unofficial end of summer for many, will see an effort to return the gathering to its roots.

"We want to get back to being a fundraiser and not so much a social event," said Mark Holtschlag, grand knight of the Quincy Knights of Columbus fraternal service organization. "We feel like this is an opportunity to help make the barbecue better."

There have been no concrete decisions made yet, but Holtschlag said K of C members likely will decide to expand the carnival offerings and cut back on or change the way beer and alcohol are offered. The beer and alcohol sales also may be turned over to an outside vendor.

Part of the reason for change stems from what was more than an $18,000 decline in net income last year compared with 2015 in beer and alcohol sales. The club spent more than $5,000 more on beer and alcohol in 2016 than in 2015, but year-over-year revenue from beer and alcohol sales was down more than $13,000. Those sales have come at taps that traditionally have been manned by K of C club members.

"We're just trying to get a better handle on things," said Holtschlag, who was installed as grand knight in July.

Holtschlag feels there might have been "some friends letting other friends drink for free" over the years, to the point where it now needs to be reined in.

"It's not like someone robbed us or anything like that," he said. "We've been looking at all of this for quite some time. We want to get more control of what is going on. Some of these things have been let go for years."

Holtschlag feels part of the falloff in beer and alcohol sales numbers also might be from more outside competition. The barbecue has lost some of its cachet because more churches and other groups now have similar types of picnics and outings during the warm-weather months.

"Parameters have changed," Holtschlag said.

Making the barbecue carnival more of a focal point will help the event develop a more family-friendly environment.

Holtschlag said "bigger and more rides" is the goal.

The barbecue is the K of C's biggest fundraiser. While the amount of money raised has not been made public for many years, one of the recent chairmen of the event told The Herald-Whig that the barbecue would usually generate between $50,000 and $80,000 each year.

Holtschlag declined to reveal what the 2016 barbecue made, but he said it was lower than in recent years and that the "$50,000 to $80,000" figures were high.

The barbecue allows the Knights of Columbus to help support many organizations in the area, including schools, Quincy University, Birthright, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.

The four-day carnival and celebration normally attracts an estimated 15,000 people to the K of C campus at 700 S. 36th. Admission is free, so there is no actual head count.

The first Knights of Columbus Barbecue took place at Baldwin Park at 30th and Maine on Aug. 10, 1927. The event netted $5,489.02, and it started with a huge 100-vehicle parade two days before to promote the event.

Cars were the biggest attraction in the early years of the barbecue. In 1935, there were four cars given away as part of the festivities. The last year a car was given away was 1974, an AMC Matador.

The only time the barbecue was not held in August was in 1935, when it was staged in September.

The barbecue took place at Baldwin Park for the first 12 years. It's also taken place at then-Quincy College athletic fields at 20th and College and then-Christian Brothers High School before moving to its current location in 1968.

The barbecue was discontinued in 1950, but returned 12 years later.

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