ECCHS BBQ_20200913

Doreen Forlow, president of the East Contra Costa Historical Society (ECCHS), and ECCHS member Chuck Hunter pause for a photo as the ECCHS holds its 32nd annual BBQ in Brentwood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Due to COVID-19-related restrictions, the sold-out fundraiser was held as a drive-thru event with members of the Knightsen 4H and Brentwood Rotary helping guide customers and deliver meals. (Tony Kukulich/The Press)

After last year’s annual Community Bar-B-Que, hosted by the East Contra Costa Historical Society (ECCHS), was held as a drive-thru event, hopes were high that this year’s picnic would once again be held in person.

The recent increase in COVID-19 infections has, however, resulted in the society’s decision to hold the popular event as a drive-thru picnic planned for Sunday, Sept. 12 from 2 - 4 p.m.

“We thought six weeks ago that we’d be able to have a sit-down barbeque, so we sent out a flyer making that statement,” said ECCHS President Doreen Forlow. “We got feedback from our members saying that they weren’t comfortable with that. So we changed to the drive-thru again this year like we did last year. So that’s how this came about. We don’t want people to be uncomfortable.”

Finding no reason to mess with success, this year’s menu will mirror last year’s. It will include a tri-tip sandwich, local fresh corn, Rose Pierce’s famous tomato salad, dessert and a drink. The cost per ticket is $25.

There will be one important differentiation this year. Meals will be available for those who didn’t purchase a ticket in advance.

“Unlike last year, we are going to have extra sandwiches that we’re going to sell at the door,” Forlow said. “We’re going to put up our open signs on the road, and see if we can bring some people in off the road. There will be a limited number of meals, but people will be able to come in off the street.”

Forlow expressed her thanks to a number of organizations and business that have provided support for the event including the Brentwood Rotary Club, the Oakley Rotary Club, the Brentwood Lions Club, Bill Brandt Ford, Smith Family Farm, G&S Farms, Nunn Better Farms, Brentwood Funeral Home and Delta Pure Water.

“Those folks have helped us year after year after year,” she added.

Money raised from the picnic will help support the ECCHS conservation efforts.

“We are proudly a member- and community-supported nonprofit historical society,” Forlow said. “Many historical societies get grants. We choose to stick with our members and our community to support us. Our goal is to collect and preserve the history of East Contra Costa County, to provide the public access to our collections and to make history come alive for all ages.”

Recent activities that support ECCHS goals include the production of a video illustrating pioneer life in East County. It was made possible in part by a grant from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Antioch. Area third graders previously visited the ECCHS museum as part of their local history curriculum, but the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated that opportunity. The video fills that gap until in-person visits are once again feasible, and extends the reach of the museum to schools that are too far away to make a visit practical.

The museum’s website has undergone a redesign, and the resource center is undergoing a reorganization to make access to research materials easier. Additionally, volunteers are currently engaged in repair and restoration work in the 100-year-old farmhouse. This work follows last year’s restoration and reorganization of the displays in Homer’s shed. Those displays focus on the history of agriculture in East County.

“Everything is being done by our volunteers,” Forlow explained. What they don’t know how to do, they’re learning how to do via YouTube.”

Mary Black, ECCHS 2nd vice president, said the importance of the event is the sense of community it promotes.

“The barbeque has always been a celebration of community because it was always a time when people could gather and see people they hadn’t seen for the rest of the year,” said Mary Black, ECCHS 2nd vice president. A lot of people who’ve lived here for a long time always show up for the barbeque as well as people new to the community. It’s always a great gathering. We’re saddened we’re not able to gather again this year, but hopefully we’ll continue that spirit and continue that in upcoming years.”

The East Contra Costa Historical Society Museum is located at 3890 Sellers Avenue in Brentwood. For more information, visit