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Bernie Holtkamp, Marty Jahn, Neil Rickertsen and Tom Klahn make the best barbecue pork you’ve ever tasted. They do it out of their love for barbecue and dedication to Camanche, Clinton, DeWitt, and the surrounding area. They have served as the barbecue “masters” of the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa Annual Fork Some Pork BBQ for more years than they care to count.

Each has their specialty area for the event, and each uses secret seasonings for the meat and beans. Each year’s pork is a bit different, but delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, where-can-I-get-another-sandwich, type pork.

Bernie Holtkamp takes care of ordering the 600 pounds of pork cooked to perfection each year. His secret: cook low and slow. He said, “United Way is a great cause, and I like the people that I cook with. I don’t have a favorite memory; they are all good. I can’t wait for the event this year.”

Marty Jahn is the newcomer of the group. He jumped in when another chef was needed for the event. He likes the fact that it raises money for the United Way to help our area citizens. He agrees that the secret to a great barbecue is cooking low and slow. He also enjoys the camaraderie of the people involved. He commented, “It’s a lot of work to make them world famous beans! Occasionally we share the recipe, but be prepared to make a roasterful to serve 100 people.”

Neil Rickertsen seasons the meat with his own special blend that changes a bit each year. The test comes when the meat shredders turn whole pork butts into well-shredded meat that amply fills the 6-inch buns. Those volunteers taste the scraps and give a “thumbs up” as the best pork each year. He also, said, “It’s cooking for a great cause, and working with terrific volunteers that has me coming back each year.”

Tom Klahn is one of the original barbecue chefs. He helped iron out kinks to streamline the system. Food preparation now is almost an art. One of his favorite memories? Is it frying over 60 pounds of bacon at once? (Spoiler alert: one secret to those good beans!) Or maybe it’s the world problem-solving discussions held while watching the pork cook. The again maybe it’s figuring out how to plug in 13 roasters of baked beans without blowing a fuse, once, twice, three times.

These four are among the many volunteers that make the event successful every year. To see why everyone raves about the pork, make sure to stop by the Clysar Employee Pavilion on Oct. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or to contact the United Way office at 242-1209 or administrator@clintonunitedway.org to order delivery. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheryl McCulloh,

Executive director of the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa