By Chris Edwards
GROVETON – In Texas, the unmistakable smell of burning cook wood and barbecue seasonings is about as commonplace as a car chase in a James Bond film.
Those smells, always the harbinger of something delicious to eat, filled the auditorium of Groveton ISD last Thursday as the school district hosted its annual Veterans Day luncheon.
The district has made the luncheon an annual tradition, and veterans, as well as their spouses, as well as active duty military personnel, law enforcement and firefighters, were invited to come and enjoy an incredible meal of brisket, ribs, sausage and traditional Texas barbecue sides. The Groveton High School FCCLA students served up the fare, as well as directed traffic.
Attendees had the choice of dining in or pulling up to a drive-thru service line, where students delivered the meals to diners on the go.
The event, which has taken place at Groveton since 2014, continued even through the pandemic in 2020, where the district adapted to pandemic guidelines and served meals curbside.
This year, attendees who came to eat in the auditorium, came and enjoyed their meals and the fellowship opportunity afforded by the event. There was no presentation or speaker, just food and fellowship, factors that, along with the scheduling, were intentional, according to Groveton ISD teacher and FCCLA sponsor Maria Plotts.
The focus was solely on good food, fellowship, and above all, honoring those who’ve served, because of other Veterans Day celebrations coming up, and also just to give the attendees a chance to enjoy a good meal and to catch up with friends.
The tradition began with GISD Superintendent Jim Dillard, who was then serving as an assistant principal, Plotts and the dedicated FCCLA students. For Groveton’s Veterans Day lunch, the community donates all of the funds required to put it on, according to Plotts.
The reach of the event is not limited to Trinity County or the Groveton community, but to all surrounding areas, Plotts said. Veterans were invited from neighboring counties, and judging by the large crowd in the auditorium, many of them did come out to be served by the FCCLA students and the GISD staff, a tradition that has offered a way of giving thanks to them for their service to country.