Vehicles lined the county festival grounds, patiently waiting for an opportunity to partake in one of the county’s best-laid traditions.
Every car that went to Scott Hall came with shipping containers filled with pulled pork, fried chicken, side dishes, and other items.
While this was a Jim Rhoades Memorial Hog Roast like no other, organizers still managed to raise more than $ 48,000.
The Rotary club expects another large turnout to help alleviate hunger in the community. For the past 25 years, the event has brought people together to ring in the holidays while collecting money that is evenly split between the Good Cheer Fund’s food distribution and the Interchurch Food Pantry.
While there is a drive-thru option for those looking to take their food with them, again people can gather together in person for food, camaraderie, and good causes.
“We raised $ 10,000 more than ever before,” said Eric Leugers, event organizer for the Franklin Rotary Club. âRotary is generally about service to yourself, so the goal of the organization is to serve those in need in the community. With Johnson County’s growing food insecurity, knowing that we will be helping thousands of families with this one event means a lot. “
Since 1996, the Johnson County Ward has come together in early December each year to celebrate while helping their neighbors do the same.
The roast pork was the brainchild of Rhoades, a former county commissioner and Rotary member. Rhoades was a well known character in the parish. He hosted the roast pork in the parking lot of his company Rhoades True Value Hardware in Franklin. Eventually, a heated tent was erected in front of his hardware store on Jefferson Street to give people a place to sit.
To support the dinner, Rhoades would ask the community for donations in kind. The farmers donated pigs or chickens. Sellers would provide massive grills. Dozens of other stores would provide drinks or side dishes or other supplies.
Rhoades was involved in roast pork until his death in 2005, after which the Franklin Rotary Club decided to keep it going. The first year Rhoades kept it, the roast pork made $ 3,500.
In 2019, the event raised more than $ 38,000, a record until last year.
The pandemic forced organizers to change the roast pork in 2020 in the name of safety. The decision was disappointing at first, and the Rotary club volunteers hoped they could raise as much as they have in the past.
These concerns proved unnecessary as the community flocked to support the roast pork.
“It was so successful that we felt we had to keep the drive-thru going in order to raise as much money as possible,” said Leugers. âBut at the same time we love the dine-in event. It’s like the start of our vacation. We can sit down and see people we might only see once a year. The Franklin Community Band is playing. It’s just a festive event that we sure wanted to bring back. “
All food for the event will be donated. Malone’s Catering of Greenwood offers pulled pork, fried chicken, side dishes, and other items, and Indian Creek FFA serves pork chops.
After last year, these groups have all increased the amount of food they bring, Leugers said.
“Since this is the 25th annual roast pork and we’ve been doing it for so long, we want to keep the tradition alive,” he said.