Pig in the Park celebrates 10th anniversary


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The Seymour Noon Lions Club’s Pig in the Park Family Fun Fair made its return to Gaiser Park on the south side of Seymour on Aug. 21 after a year’s absence.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10th annual event was canceled in 2020, so the local service organization was happy to bring it back this year.

“This is our second largest fundraiser of the year, and this helps with a lot of things,” Lion Christy Nolan said. “We did $5,000 in high school scholarships this year, and we also provide funds for Anchor House.”

Club President Dennis Carlson said about 75% of their budget was cut last year.

“So we couldn’t provide some of our normal assistance to community groups and to state projects,” he said. “The funding just wasn’t there with everything being closed down last year.”

Nolan said they invited community agencies to set up at the event this year.

“As long as they provided a kid-friendly activity, the organizations get to set up for free,” Nolan said. “We want to make sure there are as many activities for the kids as possible.”

Nolan said they wanted the event to be a full family fun day, and then they encouraged folks to go to Scoop the Loop afterwards.

“It’s a big weekend in Seymour, so it works well,” Carlson said.

He said the club also helps provide eye screenings for all of the schools in Jackson County.

“We go in with the school nurses for first, third, fifth and eighth grades, and it’s required by the state to test,” he said.

Nolan said if the Lions didn’t come in and do the eye testing, then the school nurse would have to test every student in those grades.

“When Kids Fest happens, we do eye screenings there and also at the Jackson County Fair for both kids and adults,” Carlson said. “We can’t tell you you’ve got bad eyes, but we can recommend an eye doctor appointment. One of the guiding principles of the Lions Club is vision assistance.”

The Pig in the Park fundraiser was started 11 years ago as a way for the club to supplement its fundraising budget and better support the various not-for-profit agencies in the community while at the same time providing a fun-filled event for kids.

This year, club members and volunteers served between 600 and 650 meals consisting of pulled pork, baked beans, chips, a cookie and a drink. Hot dogs and pork burgers also were available. Members of the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour sold ice cream, too.

Preparing the pork for the picnic is a team effort. A group of club members gets together the night before to get the meat ready for the roasters.

“Then my husband, Brad Nolan, cooks the pork all night long,” Nolan said. “He takes care of that, and then some of the guys take care of the pork burgers, and then when we get here, we shred the pork and get it ready to go.”

It takes between 35 and 40 volunteers to pull off the event each year.

“We do get some volunteers from the high school, and we have the baseball boys helping out today,” Nolan said. “Also, some of the youth from Cornerstone Community Church are volunteering today, as well.”

Lion John Jennings was on hand to help out, too. He has been a member of the Seymour Noon Lions Club for 29 years.

“I’ve not been a very active member until I retired a couple of years ago, but Frank Ruane is iconic in our club,” Jennings said. “He has probably recruited more members in his lifetime than everyone else put together. He’s truly a blessing to the community.”

Aden Burnside, a member of Seymour High School’s baseball team, was volunteering at the basketball stand along with some of his teammates.

“We are helping to keep things organized and having fun ourselves,” Burnside said.

Teammate Justin Laiz said the coach asked the players if they wanted to volunteer and be a part of this event.

“We decided to sign up so we could help out the community a little bit,” he said.

Teammates Vince Wilson, Skyler Cockerham, Eli Meyer and Braden Richey also volunteered at the booth.

Next to the basketball booth were Chelsea Burrell and Bethany Rust of Uptown Realty. The two volunteered to operate a face painting booth at the event.

“Christy Nolan contacted us because they didn’t have a face painter this year, and she had seen us at the fair, so she asked if we would come do it,” Burrell said.

They raised money for Seymour Main Street and the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour.

“I’m doing Dancing with the Seymour Stars, and every dollar raised here is a vote for Mitch Murphy and myself,” Rust said. “So we are helping out here as a fundraiser courtesy and to add to our dance fund and also because it’s fun.”

Chris and Bri Thomas were at the park with their four sons, Canon, 9, Benny, 5, Leeland, 2, and Asher, 1.

“We are here to listen to the music, for the bouncy houses, obstacle course, the food and just all of it,” Bri said.

Cousins Ezra Reed and Ava Burden were at the park celebrating a family birthday, and they said the big inflatable slide set up at the park was really fun.

Helping out at the slide was volunteer Ava Lee, one of the youth at Cornerstone Community Church in Seymour.

“My youth group leader said they needed help here today, so I signed up,” she said. “I tried out the slide earlier, too.”

Retha Maxwell said she lives just a few houses down from Gaiser Park, and it was her first time attending the event.

“I have a 6-year-old here in the bouncy house, and he just got his face painted,” Maxwell said. “He has had some ice cream and played basketball, and it’s really nice. I wish there was something like this more often for the kids.”

Jackson County Public Library set up a table, offering a pig balloon craft, pens and buttons.

“Anyone who would like to sign up for a library card can do that here today,” Kristi Gray said. “We’re also advertising the library app in case they do sign up.”

Several other organizations were set up at the event, including Jackson County United Way and Children’s Bureau Inc.

Amber Krebs of Seymour was at the park with 6-year-old Gavin Foster, who had spiders painted on his face from the face painting booth.

“He did that for me because I’m afraid of spiders,” Krebs said, laughing.

Gavin said his favorite things at the park were the bouncy houses and playing basketball.

Carlson said the Lions Club couldn’t do Pig in the Park without the support of the community, including the corporate sponsors.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go into the Lions Club’s fundraising budget to support various nonprofit agencies in the community.

“Our sponsor donation money is still coming in, but after our event on Aug. 21, around $2,700 has been raised,” Nolan said. “This money will be going directly back to the community.”

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