Founders Day this Saturday

Published 10:24 am Friday, May 15, 2015

By Tracy Agnew
Suffolk News-Herald
Special to The Tidewater News

The Holland Ruritan Club will celebrate 87 years of Ruritan at its annual Founders Day event this weekend in the village of Holland.

It’s a milestone anniversary for the event, said Donald Worrell, the current vice president of the club.

“According to our record books, this is the 30th year that the Holland Ruritan Club has been putting on Founders Day,” he said. “This is the one time a year we celebrate the anniversary of a national organization that was founded in Holland, which is now part of Suffolk.”

The event will kick off at 11 a.m. with a parade. Folks should arrive in town before 10:30 a.m., as the streets will be shut down 30 minutes before the parade begins.

“We will have people there from many different states, all over the country,” Worrell said. “We will have many entries in the parade — a large group of high school bands, the Shriners,” and so on.

“The parade lasts the better part of an hour,” he continued. At noon, the barbecue cookoff begins. Ticketholders can get samples of barbecue made by several different Ruritan clubs around the region and vote on their favorite.

Tickets to the barbecue cookoff — the only part of the day’s activities that’s not free — are $10 each and can be purchased at the gate, Worrell said.

A DJ will provide entertainment during the barbecue cookoff. Children’s activities, vendors and exhibitors also will be on site.

A number of children’s baseball games also are scheduled throughout the day.

“It’s just a full day of fun-filled activity,” Worrell said.

Tom Downing of Suffolk and Jack Gwaltney of Holland formed the group that would come to be known as Ruritan when they recognized the need for an organization where community leaders could meet and discuss ways to make their community a better place to live. The first club was chartered in May 1928.

The concept spread across the country in the ensuing Great Depression as folks leaned on each other to survive. Clubs hold fundraisers to spend on community needs, which vary from place to place.

Worrell said the Holland Ruritan Club currently has fewer than 25 members.

“This is a very small club that’s been doing this all this time,” he said. “If any community-minded citizen would like to become a part of this organization, they can call me.”

Worrell can be reached at 375-6218 for more information.