By Kristen Miller
COKATO, DASSEL, MN Pork chops, pork chops, and more pork chops.
Each spring, and during the Cokato Corn Carnival, Cokato Lions Club members grill up the tasty chops for the community to enjoy, in an effort to raise money for local needs.
Currently, the club is gearing up for its spring fundraiser, the annual pork chop supper, slated for Friday, April 27 from 4:45 to 7 p.m. at Cokato Elementary.
In the past, the Lions had served as many as 900 pork chops during that two-hour time frame. In recent years, that number has gone down and the Lions serve between 400-500 pork chops, according to Dennis Ashburn, a member for roughly 20 years.
The chops are purchased through both the White Front Locker Service and The Marketplace.
Head of the grills is Pat Fitzsimmons, Cokato Lion and local hog producer. He is also vice president of the Minnesota Pork Board.
The special seasoning that helps make the chops so tasty is actually used by the MN Pork Producers for all of its pork chop feeds, Ashburn said, explaining they provide the grill.
Friday’s meal includes a pork chop, baked potato, beans, apple sauce, bread, and beverage. Tickets are $8 for adults, and $2 for an extra chop. Children ages 12 and under will receive a hot dog, chips, beans, and drink for $3.
‘15 Guns in 15 Days’
Other annual fundraisers include pancake breakfasts, raffles, and more.
The Lions Club is also in the process of selling raffle tickets for a gun raffle, “15 guns in 15 days.”
For $20, a person enters to win one of 15 guns donated by Scheels, or a gift card from the sporting good store, explained Mark Redman, director and Lion in charge of the raffle. The drawing will take place in September.
To purchase tickets, call Redman at (320) 980-6019.
Possible name change
The Cokato Lions Club was officially charted Dec. 10, 1979, but has since added several Dassel residents to its roster. The club has always served the Dassel area, as well.
This has led the club to consider a name change that would include Dassel in its official title.
The official paperwork has been submitted to Lions International for approval, according to Abe Abrahamson, club secretary.
Serving the DC community
There are many ways in which the Cokato Lions Club serves the Dassel-Cokato area.
The original focus was on vision, by working with the schools to fulfill requests for glasses.
Annually, the club hosts the Silent Santa Toy Drive, collecting gifts and distributing them to low-income families.
Last December’s toy drive served 45 families and more than 135 individuals.
In addition, the Lions contribute to the middle school’s conservation trip, Dassel Elementary’s spring bike rally, local food shelves, scholarships, and other requests it receives throughout the year.
The club recently implemented a monthly “Random Act of Kindness” that anonymously gives a gift to people nominated by club members. One such gift would be a gas card to a family that is strapped for cash.
The club will also look at any requests it receives. Requests can be sent to the Cokato Lions Club, Box 691, Cokato 55321.
Currently, there are 45 members on the roster, including men and women.
“Everyone that is a member of Lions is there to serve, and we have fun doing it,” Ashburn said. “We have a great club,” he added.
The Lions are always looking for new members. For those interested in learning more about the Cokato Lions, contact any of the members or visit the club online at http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/cokatomn.
The club’s dinner meeting is the first Monday of the month at the Dassel History Center, starting with a social hour at 6 p.m. The club’s business meeting is the third Monday of the month at the Iron Horse in Cokato at 7 p.m.