The tradition started out as a free ham and bean feed as much as 40 years ago.

Served back then to fairgoers sitting on outdoor benches at the Ellis County Fairgrounds, now the 4-H BBQ is served in the air-conditioned comfort of the Unrein Building. Sponsored by the Ellis County 4-H Council, it’s a community meal to which everyone is invited.

“This isn’t a fundraiser for 4-H,” said Susan Schlichting, 4-H Youth Development agent with the county’s Cottonwood Extension District. “It’s just to say let’s sit down together and enjoy a meal and see the exhibits and support the kids.”

Th 4-H BBQ runs from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 19, with barbecue pork and beef from Ruth Ann Bigge, along with lots of salads and dessert, said Schlichting.

Tickets, which cost $10 each, can be purchased at the extension district office, 601 Main St., through Monday afternoon. After that, they can be purchased at the kitchen in the Schenk Building on the fairgrounds, 1344 Fairground Road.