People filed through the shelter house near the east end of Gaiser Park in Seymour for four hours Saturday afternoon.
Even a shower that dumped a large amount of rain didn’t keep them from coming to eat the freshly pulled smoked pork piled high on a bun and doused in homemade barbecue sauce with a side of chips and beans.
The event was the Seymour Noon Lions Club’s sixth annual Pig in the Park.
What began as a meal for the community — and a way for the club to raise some money — now features activities geared toward those with children.
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Saturday’s edition, for instance, included bounce houses, live music, basketball shooting and booths set up by service organizations and others offering information about what they have to offer.
Also, members of the Seymour High School archery team set up a temporary archery range on the ball diamond at the park and allowed visitors to try their out their shooting skills, and the Lions Club’s vision screening bus was on hand for anyone wishing to test their eyesight.
The club initially organized the event to help raise money for various community projects throughout the year. It assists agencies such as Anchor House Family Assistance Center, Community Provisions of Jackson County and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana. The club also sponsors a basketball tournament in the winter for Special Olympics.
“We help a lot of the Jackson County United Way agencies,” said Bob Beatty, club member and organizer of Pig in the Park.
“There’s always ways to help the community, and things are tight anymore, so we just try to help as many as we can,” he said.
But what makes the event so popular for the community? Beatty has a simple answer.
“Barbecue,” he said with the laugh while collecting meal tickets. “Everyone loves barbecue.”
The club expected to serve more than 600 pulled pork sandwich meals throughout the afternoon, and it took about 30 volunteers to serve those meals.
Lions Club member Brad Nolan arrived at Gaiser Park on Friday evening and began smoking two hogs at 8 p.m. The hogs came off the smoker around 9 a.m. Saturday morning, and Nolan began shredding it in preparation for the meals.
What makes the sandwiches special is the homemade sauce that Nolan prepares. It’s a tweaked version of his grandmother’s recipe handed down to him.
“I modified it a little bit. The Lions did a taste test, and the Lions liked a little bit of a sweeter sauce,” he said. “My grandma’s sauce was a little spicier, but we went with the sweet.”
Nolan said he enjoys helping with the event because it allows him to share his passion of smoking meat.
“When I was a kid, my mom and stepdad, we’d do a hog roast every year. So when we were looking for a new event for the Lions Club, I said we should smoke a hog here at the park,” he said.
The event also brings the community together for a day at the park, Nolan said.
“The fact that we get so many members of the community to come out and utilize the park, and now, we have so many of the nonprofits setting up stuff for the families to do around here, I just think it’s a great event,” he said. “It’s just nice to have the community come out and support us for this event.”
Beatty said he always looks forward to planning the event.
“I like getting the community involved to help fill Gaiser Park,” he said. “It’s fun to show everyone what we’re all about.”