ELLERBE — Hotdogs, watermelon races and fireworks all symbolize the significance of Independence Day. And for the Ellerbe Lions Club, Tuesday’s annual Fourth of July Jamboree was a success at both celebrating and bringing the community closer together.
Despite growing safety concerns across the county, the Ellerbe Lions Club held its Jamboree, nearing its 50th year of existence, at Ellerbe Lions Club Park at 306 Millstone Road. Spread across its 30-acre complex, families enjoyed a fun-filled day of relaxing that was capped off with a spectacular fireworks show.
Lions Club International, which is a community service organization with 1.4 million worldwide members, prides itself in offering fun, safe events for local families. The Ellerbe Club, which currently has 20 active members, is led by President Lynn McCaskill, who received the position this past month.
“This (event) started off as something to give the people of Richmond County to do,” McCaskill said. “It’s something for families to come out to and enjoy an afternoon here. It has grown quite a bit, and we’re excited.”
Volunteers and Ellerbe Club members hosted a variety events that included: “greasy pole” climbing, soapy watermelon races, live music by the Jacobs Family, the Mt. Carmel Youth Band and Dark Horse, wrestling by Carolina Wrestling Entertainment, karaoke, a kayak raffle, and ended with a firework show.
Local food trucks and vendors lined the perimeter of the grounds, offering an assortment of meals and treats for those in attendance. The Ellerbe Fire Department, Station 430, cooled off participants by spraying water during relay and race events.
For many families, the Lions Club Jamboree has become a tradition. Eli Maske, 14 of Ellerbe, has been coming as long as he can remember because of the special family element this event has to offer.
“It’s just really exciting,” Maske said. “The wrestling is really interesting. The whole community gets to come together, and shows the community’s pride for America.”
McCaskill, who has been a member of the Ellerbe Club since 1972, acknowledged the immense amount of community and volunteer support needed to put on an event like the Jamboree. Club members Joey Bostick and Donnie Richardson were instrumental in the planning and execution of Tuesday’s events, among others.
“We have so many people and volunteers to do things for (this) day, and leading up to this day,” McCaskill said. “And they feel like they’re part of our organization, though they may not be members. They’re a part of the community.”
As the Lions Club’s primary objective is to give back to the community, the proceeds collected from Tuesday’s Jamboree will be used for a variety of projects around Richmond County. McCaskill noted that the money raised will be used to benefit the Kemp Memorial Library, the Rankin Museum of American Heritage, Ellerbe Middle School, Mineral Springs Elementary School, Brighter Visions, as well as help keep the Club’s facilities and grounds maintained.
Funds raised will also be used to give two $1,000 scholarships in memory of long-time Ellerbe Lions Club members Harris Rummage and Ed Vuncannon.
“We try to do anything,” McCaskill said. “If there is a need in the community, and somebody brings it to our attention, if there is anything we can do to meet that need, we try to do so.”
Paralleling the day’s festive events, the Ellerbe Lions Club recognized several community members for their outstanding service. The 2017 Citizen Award was given to John Covington, who manages Food King in Ellerbe. Covington has donated a lot of his time and efforts to make the Ellerbe community a better place.
“I’m really shocked,” Covington laughed. “I’m overwhelmed with this award. I just try to come out and help as many families as I can. This (award) means a lot. It lets me know people appreciate what I do for the community.”
Bostick, who has been a Lions member for eight years, was celebrated as this year’s Lion of the Year. Bostick, who owns his own septic tank contracting business, has served many roles within the organization, such as president and vice president. He was honored to be chosen for this award.
“I do this every year,” Bostick said. “I look over the Fourth of July event, and make sure it runs right. I appreciate this award.”
Also, Howard Yarbrough was recognized with the Lion Tamer of the Year award, which showcases his 30 years of service with the Lions Club.
The Ellerbe Lions Club would like to express its sincere gratitude to Sheriff James E. Clemmons, Jr., and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office for their cooperation in making this a fun and safe Fourth of July event.