WINNSBORO — Guests at this Saturday’s Barbecue, Bluegrass and Blue Jeans Benefit will be able to bid on a custom-built barbecue grill and some outdoor cooking lessons, thanks to the generosity of two Midlands area residents.
Retired Army sergeant and welder Freddie Watkins is teaming up with George King, South Carolina’s barbecue champion, to help raise funds for the Fairfield Memorial Hospital Foundation. The event, set for 6 p.m. on Saturday at The Farm in Ridgeway, aims to raise funds for the hospital’s rehabilitation services department.
The grill is one-of-a-kind and Watkins says it’s a perfect size for a patio or deck. It will be sold with the cooking lessons during a live auction at the evening event.
“This particular grill is built from an old water heater and it can use either gas or charcoal,” Watkins said. “I weld and make all kinds of barbecue grills out in my back yard from stuff I can find or buy real cheap.”
Welding now is just a hobby for Watkins who suffered a heart attack in 2009.
“Since then I work real hard for a couple of days, then I rest,” he said.
A welder since he was 17, Watkins retired from the Army and also retired from a second career as an underwater welder, a skill he says is in high demand.
“I was pretty quick at what I did,” he said. “So much so, they called me ‘Fast Freddie.’”
The grill is among more than 25 items up for bid at the event on Highway 21 just south of Ridgeway.
“We’re planning both a silent and live auction,” said Mike Quinn, foundation president. “Among those items are a Round of Golf for four at Cobblestone, a platinum package kids’ birthday at Plex Indoor Sports, a night at the Hampton Inn Columbia-Downtown Historic District, dinners at several restaurants, a gym membership, a selection of fine wines, hand stitched quilt, art work and more.
A ticket to the event includes a barbecue meal, desert and assorted beverages.
Along with the auctions, two bluegrass bands are scheduled to play at the event.
“Knox Station and Country Buddies are well-known local talent,” Quinn said. “George King and his team called “Can’t Quit Smoking” are cooking the barbecue so we know it will be the best in the state.”
The event begins at 6 p.m. and continues until 9 p.m.
“I know Carolina plays LSU on TV beginning at eight, but plan on coming anyway,” Quinn said. “It’ll be okay if you miss a little bit of the first half. Clemson fans don’t have to worry. They have an open date on Saturday so they can stay late.”
Tickets are $30 each or $50 per couple, and the public is invited to attend.
Children from age 6 to 10 are $10. Children under age six are free.
“Tickets are being sold at four convenient locations in Winnsboro, Ridgeway and Blythewood,” he said. “Call 803-608-5510 for ticket information.”
All proceeds will be used to support Fairfield Memorial Hospital.