Lions’ Apple Butter
Making and selling Apple Butter has been a Rappahannock Lions tradition for years, and is a major source of funding for the Lions Club. All monetary proceeds from the sale of apple butter will go back exclusively to Rappahannock community organizations.
The late Paul Nichols started the Rappahannock Lions apple butter project back in the mid 70s. The first year, work was done by hand; Lions stirred the apples in copper kettles in the Rappahannock Coop parking area. Since that time, it has gone to many other locations where there were canneries available.
For the past 18 years, the Lions have processed the apple butter at the Keezletown Community Cannery near Harrisonburg, VA. This cannery has its own history as it was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Shown in the top left photo is Carson Johnson, one of the founding members of the Lions Club and “Keeper of the Recipe”, stirring the butter in one of the four 50 gallon vats used to make the butter.
Making apple butter is labor intensive, and requires the combined efforts of 30 or more Lions. This year, 50 bushels of apples were washed, cut, cleaned, transported, pressed, cooked, spiced, bottled, and sold. On the left, Yogi Bear and Jim Blubaugh clean apples during the 2006 exercise.
Some of the members of the 2005 Apple Butter Squad are shown on the right: from left, Carson Johnson, Hal McDermott, Dave Hilty, and Yogi Bear.
Dedication of Lions’ Club Scoreboards
The Lions Club raised funds to purchase and install a scoreboard on the school athletic fields. The new scoreboard dedication occurred on Friday, May 5th, 2006, just prior to the softball and baseball games. The scoreboards were dedicated to the memory of Carson Johnson, a life-long Sperryville resident, civic leader, businessman, and one of the founding members of the Lions Club. The School Board thanked the Rappahannock Lions’ Club “for its support of our school programs and many programs for our youth in the community over the years.”
The Bland Music Contest
It’s not the music that’s bland; it’s a music contest for students, sponsored by the Lions Clubs of Virginia, named in honor of James A. “Jimmy” Bland. Bland is considered the greatest Black writer of American folk songs. He composed over 700 songs, including “Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny”.
In 2006, the winner of the Rappahannock Lions Club Bland Contest was Nicole Marie Espinola. She went on to win First Place at the Lions Region IV Bland Contest. Nicole is the daughter of Tom Espinola and Lorraine Duisit of Washington, is a gifted pianist, and a eleventh grade student at Rappahannock County High School. Nicole placed second at the 2005 region contest. She competed at the district level of the Lions statewide Bland Contest at Alexandria on April 30, finishing second. The state level contest is held at the Virginia Lions State Convention in Hampton, Virginia in May. First Prize at the state level can be as much as a $2,500 music scholarship.
In 2007, the contest was held on February 18 before a packed house at the Theatre in Little Washington. First place winners were as follows: Nicole Marie Espinola – high school instrumental; Kelsa Mae Settle – elementary school vocals; Michelle Joanna White – elementary school instrumental. Nicole will go on to the regional tournament and hopefully all the way to the States.
In 2008, the Lions Club hosted the County contest on February 10, and will host the Regional Contest on March 8. At the County contest, the judges awarded top overall honors to Nicole Marie Espinola (instrumental) for a concert-ready performance of Chopin’s ever popular “Fantaisie-Impromptu.” Kelsa Mae Settle won the top overall vocal award for her lilting a cappella rendition of the old spiritual, “I Am Bound for the Promised Land.”
Other winners included Evan Thomas Espinola, Ryan Benyo, Heidi Marie Rechin, Shenae Marie Copeland, Michelle White, and Grace Alexander. The schools represented included the Rappahannock County Elementary School, the Rappahannock County High School, and Wakefield Country Day School.
The Rappahannock Lions Club has sponsored and conducted the local Bland Contest for Rappahannock students and/or residents, K-12, annually for over 20 years.
Hurricane Katrina Relief
The members of the Rappahannock Lions Club offered support to the community of Biloxi, Mississippi, as a result of the damages experienced during Hurricane Katrina. The Rappahannock Lions are adopting the Biloxi Lions Club as a sister club to support their efforts to those who have suffered incredible losses from the storm.
Many individuals and organizations in Rappahannock County have donated money and goods to disaster relief organizations assisting in repairing the damage from Hurricane Katrina. The Rappahannock Lions Club worked with Lions International to find a club in the region where we could have an impact and help the community through the club. Through the initiative of one of our members, we connected with the Biloxi Club, which services and supports its community. Through correspondence with the Biloxi Club’s Vice President and Secretary, we have received first-hand knowledge of some of the immediate needs.
For the Biloxi Club, the Rappahannock Lions purchased gift cards from Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart from donations received from our community. This idea has been coordinated with the Biloxi Club as the most convenient and workable way for their club to provide assistance to the most needy in their community. The funds can be used to acquire tools, building supplies, appliances and more.
Since 1983, volunteers from Rappahannock County, including the Lion’s Club and many local businesses and organizations, join together to put on a “Rappahannock Night” for about 100 children with cancer at the 4-H summer camp near Front Royal. Camp Fantastic is sponsored by Special Love, a Winchester organization devoted to making life as happy as it can be for children who are being treated for cancer.
Camp Fantastic provides classes, recreation, theme parties, campfires and other exciting activities for 7 to 17-year-old cancer patients. A full medical staff from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) also are on site to provide medical treatment, medicine, and counseling where needed. Children attending this camp come from Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. The Lions provide a meal of burritos, salad, and corn on the cob. Other Rappahannock organizations also provide food, treats, and special events. The Lions kitchen crew is shown below.
What makes this camp unique is its effort to provide children with cancer an opportunity to step back from the seriousness of their disease and enjoy the bonds of friendship with other children who share similar experiences. What makes it fun and “fantastic” are the many activities organized to lighten the kids’ burdens and provide them a brief moment of fun, games, good food, and companionship that might in fact help them recover more quickly. It does wonderful things for the volunteers as well.
The organizers chose a “Pirates” theme for last year’s festivities. Two years ago, it was “Rainforest Jungle”; last year it was “Clowns”. Gift bags with toys and games were given to the children. And dancing by the children and staff counselors went on until the wee hours, thanks to the rhythm and the beat provided by the Blues Fuze band.