Cutchogue Fire Department’s annual chicken BBQ canceled

The 64th annual Cutchogue Fire Department Chicken BBQ has been canceled, the department announced this week.

An annual North Fork tradition that typically draws huge crowds to Cutchogue, the barbecue is one of the latest events that has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. While Long Island has entered Phase 2 of the reopening plan, large-scale events where social distancing is difficult are still off limits.

A message posted on the department’s website noted that the Town of Southold and Suffolk County Health Department said permits could not be issued for an event of that size in August “given the many unknown factors surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“This is not a decision that was reached in haste,” the department wrote. “Many discussions were held with the various committees for the event as well as with The Board of Fire Commissioners, The Chief’s Office, the Company Captain as well as members of our Ladies Auxiliary who have co-hosted the event every year since the beginning.”

The barbecue serves as a fundraiser for the department and more than 3,000 chicken halves are grilled each event.

“Many factors went into this decision, foremost being the health and safety of our loyal customers who have helped create a one of a kind event for 64 years,” the department wrote. “Consideration also had to be given to our own members and volunteers who work near one another in preparing all the food for an event this size.”

Similar large-scale events have been canceled as well, such as the Strawberry Festival in Mattituck and Polish Town Fair in Riverhead.