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Volunteers from local church men's groups prepare dessert for last year's pig roast fundraiser. Submitted photo

Divine swine: Annual pig roast fundraiser the work of five south Washington County men's groups

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There will be plenty of enthusiastic volunteers on hand when the men's clubs of five south Washington County churches host their annual pig roast on Saturday, but Howard Richart remembers it was hard to get the event started 14 years ago.

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"It took two years and two turkey dinners," he said.

Phil Wagner of the St. Rita's Men's Club said Richart, of the Zion Lutheran Church Men's Club, approached St. Rita's about hosting a pig roast. "It took two years for him to convince us," he said last week.

Richart, an accomplished cook with lots of pig roast experience, served turkey dinners for two meetings of the St. Rita's Men's Club and that cemented the relationship.

The two men have worked on the pig roast ever since.

Wagner said he's an apprentice to Richart.

"It'll be about 35 years before he gives me the recipe," he said.

"I'm getting too old," Wagner said, "so it will be a lot sooner than that."

The two men's clubs planned on hosting the first pig roast, but when the All Saints Lutheran Church Men's Club heard about the project, they also joined.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and St. Luke Lutheran Church men's club also joined the effort in following years.

Many south Washington County churches send volunteers to help with various fundraisers but the pig roast is the only event hosted by five different churches.

Men's club members are proud of their ecumenical effort that benefits Stone Soup Thrift Store, Friends in Need Food Shelf and the food shelf's emergency fund. Those three entities have shared the $85,000 raised over the years.

"It's the same group of guys year after year and we've made some good friends," Wagner said. "We help out a lot of people."

They also attend events at each other's churches. Wagner goes to the Zion Super Sale and Richert contributes to, and has worked on, the St. Rita's can and paper collection drives.

Before the cooking starts on Friday night, however, someone has to get the pig. Sherrie and Mauri Perron fill that slot. The Perrons have a good sense of humor and deliver their charge in an unusual way.

Every year, the Perrons go to Hugo, usually accompanied by Mike and Penny Quinn, to get the pig. They return to the Perron home where they prop up the pig in the front seat of Sherrie's late model blue convertible for the drive to the church.

They also dress up the pig --one year as Brett Favre, former Minnesota Viking and Green Bay Packer quarterback, and another in nurse's scrubs.

Last year, Quinns couldn't come along on the jaunt so the Perrons needed their grandchildren's help getting it into the car.

"They wouldn't do it without plastic gloves," Sherrie said. "They've never seen a live pig, let alone a dead one."

This year, the Perrons might dress the pig as a Minnesota Twin but Sherrie's not so sure.

"They lost a hundred games last year," she said, "and this year they're not doing so good either."

If you go

The annual mens' club pig roast will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at St. Rita's Catholic Church on 80th Street in Cottage Grove.

Tickets, which are available at the churches and at the door, are $4 for children ages 4-11, and $8 for adults for tickets bought in advance or $9 at the door.

Dinners include baked beans, hot dogs, pork sandwiches and brownies.

There will be a silent auction with proceeds to be matched by donations from several church fraternal and local service groups and local businesses.

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Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600
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