The Johnson County community will have their chance to fill their bellies with a feast of pulled pork and other fixings at the annual Jim Rhoades Memorial Hog Roast.
At the same time, they’ll be ensuring that their neediest neighbors have food to eat this holiday season.
The Rotary Club will again host the Jim Rhoades hog roast from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Scott Hall at the Johnson County fairgrounds in Franklin.
From roasted pork and pork chops to ice cream and keg root beer, people will gather to eat while supporting the Good Cheer Fund, a countywide initiative to distribute food baskets to the hungry at Christmas, and the Interchurch Pantry in Franklin, which provides food and household supplies to county residents in need.
All of the proceeds from the event are equally split between the two charities, said John Auld, who spearheads the dinner for the Franklin Rotary Club.
“It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season. Everyone who is there usually has a great time seeing neighbors, business associates, people they don’t normally see. It’s a neat way to get everything started,” he said.
There is no set cost for the meal. Rather, organizers ask people to give what they can to the cause.
“We have $1,000 donations down to $1 donations. It’s a free-will offering; there’s no minimum, but we’d love to see everyone give at least $10 if they can,” Auld said.
The hog roast was established by Jim Rhoades, a former county commissioner, owner of a Franklin hardware store and member of the Franklin Rotary Club.
After a grill vendor approached him about a way to demonstrate his goods, Rhoades had the idea of starting a community-wide feast that would benefit people in need.
Rhoades would cook as many as 12 hogs and hundreds of chickens for the crowd, often manning the grills himself. Organizers estimate they served 1,000 people last year.
After Rhoades’ death in 2005, the Franklin Rotary Club decided it was a worthwhile cause to carry on, Auld said.
“We’re always excited about it, and it’s an awfully nice way to commemorate the dedication Jim Rhoades had to his community,” Auld said.
The Rotary Club has been a longtime supporter of the Good Cheer Fund, going back to its founding in the 1920s. The club gave $25 to the fund in each year starting in 1922, regularly one of the largest donations given.
Members challenged the Franklin Kiwanis Club to a charity basketball game, with all of the proceeds going to the fund. In 1928, that resulted in an additional $22.50 donation.
But while the Rotary Club has been the main organizer of the hog roast, they couldn’t pull it off without the assistance from a wealth of partners and donors.
Steve and Dan Malone, owners of Malone Catering in Indianapolis, provide all of the catering and food, free of charge, Auld said.
“The contribution they make cannot be understated. Without them, this could not happen. There’s no way we could put on this type of a function and raise the funds we do,” he said.
Petro’s Culligan gives water for the dinner. Monarch Beverage provides drinks, including kegged Sprecher Root Beer. Indian Creek FFA donates pork chops and ice cream for root beer floats.
The Nimble Thimble Quilt Club will have a booth selling items such as quilts, scarves and hats that they’ve sewn themselves. The money they make will be split between the Good Cheer Fund and the Interchurch Food Pantry.
By working together, the community is able to provide vital funding for hunger initiatives in the county. Last year, the Rotary Club was able to donate more than $27,000 to the Good Cheer Fund and the food pantry.
“Timing is everything, and this is a great time to ask people to support those two organizations,” he said. “It’s a great way to raise money for these two organizations in a few hours time.”
What: Jim Rhoades Memorial Hog Roast, hosted by the Franklin Rotary Club
When: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Scott Hall at the Johnson County fairgrounds
Cost: The lunch is free, but donations are requested.
Why: Proceeds benefit the Johnson County Good Cheer Fund and Interchurch Food Pantry