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And, for many Americans, barbecues are a key part of Fourth of July celebrations.

“I think it’s just an American tradition,” said Carrie West, whose family owns Spare Rib BBQ in Farmington, which caters Fourth of July parties every year.

Neil Johnson, pastor of First Indian Baptist Church in Farmington, said barbecue is more than a tradition. Johnson, who sold barbecue food on Saturday to raise money for the church’s building fund, said barbecue started as a necessity.

“We say hotdogs and hamburgers are the American food, but this country has been barbecuing since the beginning,” he said.

Barbecuing is cooking a meal over an open fire, which was the norm when colonists first arrived in North America. While technology eventually replaced the need to cook over a fire, the art has not gone away.

“We’ve turned it into a pastime,” Johnson said.

And everyone has their own tips for great barbecuing. The West family has a secret family barbecue sauce recipe that compliments the hickory wood used to smoke the meat.

“It’s the sweet southern, but it’s got a bite to it, too,” West said of the sauce, whose ingredients are a closely guarded secret.

Johnson, who also values the secrecy of his recipe, incorporates Creole methods into his method, which means seasoning the meat differently.

“It’s a little different,” he said. “A little more spicy.”

He said many people who cook brisket use a dry rub and then cook it. He adds a few more steps, including injecting a special seasoning into the meat. One secret he shared is that when people cook barbecue, they need to marinate the meat.

While there are lots of options for people who do not want to heat up their barbecue grills over the holiday weekend, West suggested people order early if they want their meal catered.

The Fourth of July is one of the peak holidays for Spare Rib BBQ, and the staff is already preparing. West added that the restaurant will close on the holiday so “all employees can celebrate and be with their families.”

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.

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