Rainelle, WV,
13:13 PM

Big Taste Grill Delivers Brats and Goodwill

Johnsonville makes detour to help residents and volunteers active in West Virginia flood relief

Rescue efforts are in full force throughout West Virginia, where 44 of the state’s 55 counties are declared in a state of emergency after floods pounded the mountainous state in late June.

Several people reached out to us asking if our “big grill is available to visit us and help out.” Johnsonville was able to respond.

Our Big Taste Grill has been on the road since 1995, traveling the country each April-November, grilling sausages around the country at various festivals and sporting events. We also call it our “Goodwill Grill” because at each event, the proceeds from the sales go to a local charity that’s helping us grill and serve the brats. And in those unfortunate situations where natural disasters strike, we’ll detour if we can to help out a community in need.

One of the Big Taste Grill trucks was heading out to Pennsylvania in mid-July for another event, but organizers from Johnsonville and GMR – the agency managing the Big Taste Grill tour – were able to coordinate an earlier departure so it could visit two cities in West Virginia this past weekend.

An estimated 6,000 Johnsonville brats were served to both weary residents and disaster-relief volunteers in Richwood on Saturday and in Rainelle on Sunday who were nearby collecting supplies and cleaning up their community. Many stopped by the Big Taste Grill during a break, while other volunteers delivered the smoked-cooked brats to those who couldn’t get to the grill.

West Virginia residents and disaster-relief volunteers have been busy for three weeks since a steady stream of storms hit the state and left 24 people dead and thousands homeless. State officials say they’re experiencing the third deadliest flood in the state’s history.

West Virginia resident Richard Hamstead was our local organizer, who helped us coordinate the two stops, arrange for condiment and bun donations from nearby stores, and helped spread the word.

“That truck, that beautiful truck will, for even a few moments, take the pain and sadness away from a lot of people,” said Hamstead. “Y'all put a smile on some faces that haven't had one for a while.”

One of the Johnsonville Grillmasters, Chad, said “Most roads were down to one lane, many hotels are filled with relief workers but the cleanup is going well, thanks to the hearts of West Virginians. There were a lot of tears and hugs, and it was an honor to work this event and make these residents’ day just a little brighter.”