This custom made ‘Santa Maria’ grill fabricated by Bill Blankenship will to be used by the United Methodist Church men to grill thinly sliced, perfectly seasoned sirloin. Tri-tip sandwiches are extremely popular to the west. The UMC dinner is from 5 – 7 p.m. on Saturday in the Atlanta Community Park. A different meal is featured each night with family friendly activities throughout the park Friday evening to Sunday.

BBQ rage from the west 'Ranchers Tri-tip Sandwich' makes debut at Atlanta Fall Festival

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[September 06, 2018]   Change is coming to the annual BBQ chicken dinner at this year's Atlanta Fall Festival scheduled for September 6, 7 & 8.

Since 1946, the Atlanta United Methodist Church has prepared a meal at the Fall Festival and since 1958 the meal has been BBQ Chicken. Mr. Dick Applegate, now 94, helped organized that original meal and still helps supervise each year.

This year, the AUMC men will introduce a "Tri-Tip" sandwich meal to the community, using a "Santa Maria" grill fabricated by Bill Blankenship, another member of the Methodist Church who has a long association with the annual BBQ Chicken Dinner.

Blankenship said they are trying to get the word out about the change. He said, “We have been making BBQ chicken for 60 years and it used to be popular, but interest is diminishing. We have used 55-gallon barrels welded together to make the chicken and it takes many guys to prepare it. We have questioned whether to keep doing the meal.”

Blankenship said at the church, they decided they want to improve the meal by doing something new and different and get more people there and involved. Several generations work together to prepare the meal.

Blankenship said on a trip out west, he discovered that tri-tip sandwiches were very popular. At one campground, Blankenship met someone who makes them for a living.

Blankenship said the tri-tip is the beef off the tip of a sirloin and it used to go in hamburger. He said if the tri-tip is cooked in thin layered strips with the right seasonings over a wood fire, it is very good.

Blankenship said tri-tip is popular for outdoor events, but you must slice the meat thinly, know the correct spices to use, and know how to cook it correctly over a wood fire.

Seeing how the tri-tip was cooked, Blankenship took photos of the grill he saw out west to get ideas on how to make one and built one of his own.

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The grill is called a Santa Maria grill because years ago in the Santa Maria Valley of California, ranchers did not have charcoal and devised their own cooking methods. The ranchers had to find a way to raise the meat up and down, so they devised a system using crank wheels and adjustable grates that would raise the meat. Soon others started making these grills.

Santa Maria grills are now popular with many pit masters according to one website and top of the line ones can cost a few thousand dollars. Blankenship said the one he put together will be used for many upcoming meals.

Come on out to the Atlanta Fall Festival and enjoy the delicious tri-tip sandwiches prepared by the men of the Atlanta United Methodist Church.

The AUMC dinner is held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday in the Atlanta Community Park where all other activities take place. Different meals and activities are featured each evening, all with a family centered focus.

[Angela Reiners]


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