Columnists

Chicken Added to Lions’ Pork Chops, Pancakes for Race Weekend on Square

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Noblesville Lions Bill Boice (left), Dale Unger, Bob Guilkey and Jeff Zeckel grill pork chops during the annual Lions Pork Chop Dinner on the Courthouse Square in Noblesville, and the tradition returns this Friday.

This weekend, a tradition returns as a big tent goes up on the Hamilton County Courthouse Square, and the Noblesville Lions set up tables and chairs for the Club’s annual Pork Chop Dinner.

Friday morning, the Lions will be up early putting pork chops on the grill for lunch, which will be served from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Regular and barbecue-style chops, baked beans and potato salad are always on the menu. There are also hot dogs for kids. Plus, a lot of fabulous desserts, including just about any pie flavor that comes to mind.

This year, the Lions are adding chicken to the menu, to give the community a larger choice, and another reason to stop by for lunch or dinner. The dinner will take place during the 10th annual Darlington Bed Race organized by the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville, at 7 p.m. on the Square, in partnership with Noblesville Main Street.

Offering this two-day Lions food event for the community has become a tradition for the Lions.

“This is important for the organization to come together and get to know each other. Meeting twice a month for an hour or two (for meetings) is good, but working together for two days brings us closer,” said event co-chairman Gordon Resler of Noblesville.

Gene Beck, also of Noblesville and a longtime Lion, had been Pork Chop Dinner event chairman for many years, but in 2021 he was joined by Gordon Resler as co-chairman. This year, Gordon Resler and his wife, Jeannie, took over and share the job as co-chairs.

“As for us, this being our first year, is especially exciting for Jeannie and I. Gene and the entire team has been remarkable to learn from,” Gordon Resler said.

“The Lions Pork Chop Dinners on the Courthouse Square have been a tradition for over 30 years and have been the club’s major source of financial support to all of our community projects,” Noblesville Lion Rollin Cutter has said. He annually organizes the volunteers for this weekend.

The Lions decided about 15 years ago that since their tent was already up for the weekend, the Lions would serve a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, and it’s still going. The Lions will serve pancakes and sausage 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday. Another thing new this year, the Lions will sell hot dogs, chips and drinks, from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday on Logan Street Bridge just before the Noblesville Main Street Duck Race, which has activities 2 – 4 p.m., with a Duck Float Parade at 4 p.m., and the Big Race, presented by The Gordon Family of Companies, starts at 4:15 p.m. (If you had trouble finding the times for the Duck Race activities, you’re not alone. The times were posted on Facebook but unfortunately couldn’t find them anywhere on Main Street’s website.)

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Noblesville Lions Club members serve up food to customers at the annual Lions Pork Chop Dinner on the Courthouse Square in Noblesville during a previous year.

Back to the Lions events … Last year, the Lions started accepting credit cards and added drive-thru service on Eighth Street.

This year, serving a pork chop BBQ, and adding chicken for a choice on the menu, plus pancakes for breakfast, then hot dogs for lunch, means a lot of planning and a lot of work for the Noblesville Lions.

They plan for this busy weekend many months in advance.

The planning begins with reserving a space on the Square and renting a tent, tables and chairs. The menu is planned. “Pork chops, potato salad and baked beans have been the tradition for nearly 30 years,” Cutter has said. “Our local Meijer has been our supplier of those great chops most of the years.” For many years, the pork chops were prepared on charcoal grills until 2015 when Schwartz Bait & Tackle donated a gas grill. And a bunch of local businesses have been supportive, evident from the advertising in the tent and on the placemats.

The tent goes up at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to be prepared for a busy Friday. Once pork chop day arrives, Lions take their different jobs. About 60 Lions usually volunteer their time. Some of their wives help, too.

Skilled backyard grillers take their place at the grills, cooking pork chops all day for hungry mouths.

The pork chop dinner’s first year, in 1984, Lions sold 300 pounds of pork chops, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic served nearly 700 pounds of chops, or about 1,400 chops. Also, about 75 pounds of potato salad, 36 pounds of baked beans and 150 pies have been traditionally served up to hungry guests, pre-COVID.

Lions staff the line stations to provide customers with trays, utensils, chops, potato salad, baked beans, drinks, plus “those great desserts,” Cutter has said. Plus, add chicken this year for those who want another choice.

The Lions’ first shift is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with members working the grills, serving food, preparing carry-out meals, taking money and more. Lions who volunteer for the second shift, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., do all of the same jobs plus prep the tent for the morning pancake breakfast. Another shift comes in at 6 a.m. Saturday to cook and serve pancakes and help with cleanup until noon.

Noblesville High School Leo Club — which formed in September 2016 and sponsored by the Noblesville Lions, who are nurturing the next generation to take over — also volunteer at the event by clearing tables, cleaning trays and welcoming patrons, friends and neighbors. Club members signed up to volunteer Friday evening and Saturday morning at the Lions’ food event.

Pork chops or chicken are $10 in advance, $12 at the door (and come with sides, pie and a drink); and pancakes are $5 for all ages. There is also a silent auction with lots of cool donated items to help raise money for their causes.

“We thank the Noblesville community for their past support and strongly encourage everyone to support our event,” Cutter said.

“We Serve” is the Lions’ motto.

Since the club’s chartering on May 9, 1942 (the Noblesville Lions will celebrate 80 years in 2022), its members have worked on a variety of projects in the local community such as KidSight, a vision screening program that Noblesville Lions members conduct at area preschools, and working with local schools to identify and provide glasses for needy students. In addition, scholarships are awarded to local seniors, support is provided to youth sports and cultural activities, and personal dictionaries are given to Noblesville third-graders. The Lions also participate each year in the Fourth of July and Christmas parades in Noblesville, featuring Stanley the Lion, the Club’s mascot, who often makes appearances at various Lions events.

“The benefits of this (weekend) event is to fund the many community projects of our local Lions Club, but we have also enjoyed the opportunity to get to know many people in the community and even in our own club.” Cutter has said. “It’s a fun event that supports our goal.”

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

Want TO GO?

What and when: Noblesville Lions Club will serve up its annual Pork Chop Dinner (Plus Chicken) from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. (The dinner will take place during the 10th annual Darlington Bed Race organized by the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville, at 7 p.m. on the Square, in partnership with Noblesville Main Street.) Lions Pancakes will be served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday under the tent. In addition, this year, the Lions will sell hot dogs, chips and drinks, for $5, from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, on Logan Street Bridge. The Main Street Duck Race activities are 2-4 p.m., with a Duck Float Parade at 4 p.m., and the Big Race starts at 4:15 p.m.)

Where: Under a tent on the northwest corner of the Hamilton County Courthouse Square in downtown Noblesville.

How much: Pork chops or chicken are $10 in advance, $12 at the door (and come with sides, pie and a drink); hot dog dinners Friday will be $5 for kids. Pancakes are $5 for all ages. Hot dogs, chips and drink, $5, on Saturday.

What else: There will be a drive-thru on Eighth Street, and credit cards will be accepted in the drive-thru and at the tent. There will also be a silent auction.

Good to know: The Lions Club meets the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Ginger’s Cafe in Noblesville.

Info: Visit https://www.facebook.com/noblesvillelionsclub or email noblesvillelions@gmail.com.