Otoe celebrates eighth annual BBQ

Kirt Manion
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

A full slate of events and warm temps provided the perfect setting for community unity at the eighth annual Otoe Barbecue on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Many of the events at this year’s BBQ mirrored those that have been featured at the event in the past, from excellent food and music to a fun run/walk and more.

One event was special for this year, that being a First Responders Parade, the importance of which could be under scored by many facts.

Obviously, with COVID-19 concerns, first responders have made great sacrifices and have been arguably the most essential of all essential workers.

In addition, Saturday’s BBQ was on the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks against the United States. It was during those horrifying events that the nation witnessed the honor and valiant service of first responders at the ground zero site, New York’s World Trade Center.

The daily lives and experiences of Americans only continue to confirm the importance of those first responders, especially in small-town America where all, or nearly all of first responders are volunteers who take time away from their family to train for and respond to emergency situations. 

Timothy Barrientos, a first responder himself and also a committee member of the Otoe BBQ, said Fire and Rescue units were on the scene from Syracuse. The Otoe Fire and Rescue was represented and the Nebraska State Patrol was on hand as well.

Barrientos said the First Responder Parade, which featured youths waiving flags, was simply a gesture of thanks.

“We wanted to show that the community cares about its first responders,” said Barrientos.

And there were a lot of folks, from a lot of places, on hand to deliver the message. Some traveled to enjoy the BBQ from Omaha and Kansas City. Barrientos said one of the attendees was from Kearney. A drive from Kearney to Otoe to take in a car show? That’s commitment.

Being together was all that was needed for a celebration. After COVID took that away for so long, it can be appreciated even more now. 

“It was nice to see the communities come together as one for a day,” said Barrientos.

The Otoe BBQ event is a tradition that actually spans longer than just eight years. Barrientos said the event went on for some time, but was interrupted for a time and then re-started eight years ago. It joins other Southeast Nebraska event, like Unadilla Days, the duck races at Avoca, and the Johnson BBQ as being an identity event for a small town.

Pictured is an entry in the car show at the eighth annual Otoe BBQ.