Community turns out for Pig in the Park


People lined up Saturday afternoon at Gaiser Park in Seymour for a heaping pile of freshly-smoked pulled pork and plenty of family-friendly activities.

It was the perfect day for the Seymour Noon Lions Club’s annual Pig in the Park event.

“We couldn’t have asked for better weather today with the sunny skies, the light breeze making it a perfect day in the park,” said Sean Hildreth, president of the service club. “It’s a great day for the families. We’ve really expanded it where it’s more than a cookout at the park, and now, we have so many more activities.”

The club served more than 600 pulled pork meals in just four hours, bringing in around $4,000. The money will support the work of local community agencies, including Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Food Pantry, Boys & Girls Club of Seymour, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Community Provisions of Jackson County Inc., Girls Inc. of Jackson County, Child Care Network and other organizations.

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The sandwiches take quite a bit of time to prepare.

Lions Club members Brad Nolan and Doug Ray arrived at the park Friday night to smoke around 400 pounds of pork. The pork cooks overnight, filling the park with a mouthwatering aroma.

Volunteers showed up around 7:30 a.m. Saturday to begin shredding the pork and then stayed to serve the meals.

For dessert, the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour sold ice cream cups.

Besides the food, there were several activities for children, including bouncy houses, craft stations led by the Muscatatuck Wildlife Society and the Jackson County Public Library and knot tying with local Boy Scouts.

The Alley Katz Band provided live music, and Seymour High School students led robotics and archery demonstrations.

“Families that come to this event may be exposed to groups that they may not have known about otherwise,” Hildreth said, adding it can spark an interest in those areas.

The event takes about 20 volunteers to pull off, including some local high school baseball and volleyball teams that helped supervise the bouncy houses and served meals.

Sandy Staley of Brownstown said she likes that the event is geared toward the whole family.

“I’m going to have three grandchildren here, maybe a fourth, and three of my four children are here today to have lunch at the park,” she said while waiting in line.

The food is another reason Staley likes to attend the event. The sandwiches are full of flavor, and you can be sure you won’t walk away hungry, she said.

“They’re delicious, and they pile it so high,” she said of the pulled pork.

She also likes that the event helps support the club’s efforts in the community.

“I think that’s great,” she said of the club’s vision screening program for kids.

Pig in the Park helps the club conduct around 3,000 annual vision screenings for youth throughout Jackson County. Hildreth said the club just began the screenings at Brownstown schools last week and will continue to do them in the county’s other communities throughout the year.

The screenings can make a real impact for families that may not be able to afford to go to the eye doctor or if they lack vision insurance, Hildreth said.

“We give referrals for the students who may need glasses. Families can at least know their children are in need of glasses and can explore ways to get them glasses so they can learn better, live better and have good eyesight,” Hildreth said.

The Noon Lions Club also helps support other groups and organizations, like Girls Inc., Boys & Girls Club and Jackson County United Way, and provides scholarships to local students each year.

“There are a lot of great causes that our money gets distributed to,” Hildreth said.

The Noon Lions Club also took Pig in the Park as an opportunity to debut its new service trailer, which they plan to use for selling Seymour Oktoberfest shirts and for other fundraisers. The club also is going to let other nonprofit groups use the trailer. On Saturday, the Boys & Girls Club used it to sell ice cream.

“We’re using it for the Oktoberfest shirt sales and other Lions Club events, but we know a lot of other clubs or organizations cannot afford to have their own display, so we’re letting other organizations use it,” Hildreth said. “They get to keep all the proceeds, but it’s a great way to encourage other groups to work with the Lions Club and promote service to the community.”

Hildreth said all of the details have not been finalized for the trailer’s use, but they have a committee working on it. They also have applied for a grant to equip the trailer with cabinets and other means of storage they expect to need.

“We don’t have it settled yet because we just got it this week, but the first collaboration is with Boys & Girls Club,” he said.

Hildreth said Pig in the Park is popular because people have started to look forward to it and make it an annual tradition as summer draws to an end.

“It’s really something that has turned into an end-of-summer tradition,” he said. “It’s a great chance to enjoy a great day at the park, and it’s also on the same day as Scoop the Loop, so it’s a great day for our community.”

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