Ruritans celebrate club’s founding

Published 8:32 am Friday, May 21, 2010

SUFFOLK — Holland is where it all started, and Ruritans from across the country will be flocking to the tiny village this weekend to celebrate 82 years of the organization.

The Ruritan organization was founded May 21, 1928, in Holland, when the first Ruritan Club was chartered. Since then, Ruritan has expanded beyond the boundaries of Holland, Suffolk and even Virginia, with thousands of Ruritan clubs throughout the country — approximately 14,000 members in Virginia alone.

The Holland Ruritan Founders’ Day on Saturday is an opportunity not only for the community to have fun — a parade, cornhole tournament, barbecue cook-off and children’s activities are among the planned happenings — but also for Ruritans to celebrate more than eight decades of community service.

“There are many communities, if Ruritan wasn’t part of the community, it would be a big void out there,” said Donald Worrell, a member of Holland Ruritan Club and last year’s national president. “It is amazing the things Ruritan clubs do.”

Worrell ought to know — his grandfather was among the charter members of the first Ruritan club, and his father and children are also members.

“Ruritan has evolved into a family organization,” Worrell said. “It’s not just a men’s group that meets.”

Though each Ruritan club is encouraged to develop its service areas based on the needs of the community, many are involved with Future Farmers of America, 4-H, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Nearly one-third of all Ruritan clubs sponsor a scouting troop. In addition, many Ruritan clubs sponsor Ruriteen clubs in their local high schools. Lakeland High School has a Ruriteen club.

“Ruritans provide fellowship, good will and community service to communities across America,” Worrell said.

Saturday’s Holland Ruritan Founders’ Day celebration will begin at 9 a.m., with a parade at 11 a.m. The parade will be followed by the barbecue cook-off from noon to 2 p.m. Barbecue tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the gate.

All-day entertainment begins at noon. Registration for the cornhole tournament ends at 11 a.m. Trophies will be awarded.

For more information on Founders’ Day, call 375-6218.