Chicken Blast: A One-of-a-kind Way to Celebrate Serbian Heritage

Chicken Blast: A One-of-a-kind Way to Celebrate Serbian Heritage

As an industrial hub in the early 1900’s, the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia became home to many immigrants looking for work in its mills. It should come as no surprise that the hard-working families also brought along their traditions, culture, and recipes. Consequently, Weirton, West Virginia developed into a city with a wide array of local restaurants and food options.


Visitors to Weirton are less likely to spot a familiar chain restaurant than a multigenerational, family-owned eatery. Travelers are greeted with warm welcomes and so much authentic homestyle cooking that they’ll wish they had more room for dessert. We can certainly recommend a wide variety of restaurants, but the summer brings a special type of event that only locals and in-the-know visitors enjoy: the Chicken Blast.


Since 1969, members of the Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church Men’s Club have gathered every Wednesday to host the Chicken Blast. Members meet before dawn to prepare the Serbian Picnic Grounds for the most delicious fundraiser, where they roast 300-400 chickens each week. The team has a smooth routine to make the seemingly daunting task run smoothly; some tend to the fires, some season and wrap the chicken, and others rotate the poles to ensure the chickens are cooked perfectly. 

Many members of the Men’s Club worked at Weirton Steel, where they developed the skills needed to build their intricate wood-fire hearth design. Each of the two hearths can hold up to five poles on each side, with twenty-five chickens cooking on each pole. Gears rotate the poles so that the chickens on top drip fat on the poles below. The slow-cooked meat rotates for two and a half to three hours, resulting in some of the best tasting chicken the customers have ever tasted.


The Chicken Blast originally started as a way of feeding Weirton Steel’s over 14,000 workers. Since payday was Wednesday, the Men’s Club chose the middle of the week as roasting day. Word spread quickly, and the Club was cooking between 600-700 at the mill’s peak to accommodate lunch and dinner orders. Despite the decline in the steel industry since the 80’s, the Club has managed to keep their longstanding tradition alive. The community keeps coming back week after week to feel a connection to its Serbian heritage.


Volunteer Chris Kotur called himself a newbie to the Chicken Blast. “I started coming down last year to enjoy eating the chicken, but some of these guys have been doing this since the 70’s. They have this down to a science,” noted Chris. “When I saw what was going on, I just really wanted to be a part of the tradition.”

Some planning is needed to participate in the Chicken Blast. Customers should call (304)-748-9866 between 6 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on Wednesdays to place their order. Chickens must be picked up by 6 p.m. on the day they’re ordered and can be taken home or enjoyed at the picnic grounds. Those who stick around often bring their own sides, grab a beer from the concessions, and have a nice, summer picnic under the pavilion. Chicken Blast season runs from the last Wednesday of May through the end of August. More information can be found on the Serbian Picnic Grounds Facebook page.

This Saturday, July 22nd, the Club will host its annual Serb Fest at the Picnic Grounds. In addition to chicken, lamb, cabbage rolls, kielbasa, sauerkraut, pierogies, pastries, and more will be on the menu. Everyone is welcome to attend between noon and 8:00 p.m. for music, games, raffles, and of course, great food.

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