World’s Largest Chicken Barbecue in Lancaster Permanently Canceled

Civitas Lancaster has announced that it is discontinuing its Annual Chicken Barbecue. Once hailed as the World’s Largest Chicken Barbecue at Long’s Park in Lancaster, increasing costs, decreasing demand, and a lack of volunteers have led the organization to suspend the event for this year and the foreseeable future, according to its president, Nicki Nafziger.

“This was a very difficult decision for us to make because so many people have been a part of this event for decades. But it no longer makes financial sense for us to expend the effort it takes to run this huge undertaking for the small return we are now generating,” she said.

Nafziger further noted that increased food costs and key sponsors dropping out have had a significant effect on the net amount of funds raised. Despite the suspension, Nafziger and Civitas Lancaster are grateful.

“We would like to thank everyone who ever donated to, volunteered for, or sponsored our event. It holds the record for the world’s largest one-day chicken barbecue and we’re very proud of that. And, of course, thanks to everyone who ever bought one of the thousands of dinners we made each year.”

Even without the chicken barbecue event, Civitas Lancaster remains financially sound and will continue to accept grant applications for funding requests that meet its mission’s goals.

“Over the years we’ve built a cash reserve that will provide ongoing charitable support from our organization,” Nafziger added. “And we are currently planning other fundraisers in the year to come. Our commitment to local community service and providing support to local Civiteen Clubs remains intact.” Civitas Lancaster will also continue support of Long’s Park through club managed resources.

Over the years there were 69 chicken barbecue fundraisers, originally organized by the Sertoma Club of Lancaster in 1953 and continuing after Civitas Lancaster stepped away from the Sertoma affiliation and re-branded in 2019. There was no chicken barbecue in 2020 due to the pandemic.