Rudy the Ruritan Bear rides on a float during last year’s Holland Ruritan Founders’ Day Parade. This year’s festivities in honor of the founding of Ruritan take place this Saturday.
Rudy the Ruritan Bear rides on a float during last year’s Holland Ruritan Founders’ Day Parade. This year’s festivities in honor of the founding of Ruritan take place this Saturday.

Holland Ruritans plan party

Published 10:25pm Monday, May 12, 2014

Downtown Holland will be hopping this weekend as the Ruritan Club celebrates its annual Founders’ Day in the 86th year of Ruritan.

Ruritan, a concept that would later spread across the country, was founded right in Holland in 1928. Tom Downing of Suffolk and Jack Gwaltney of Holland formed the group that would come to be known as Ruritan when they recognized the need for an organization where community leaders could meet and discuss ways to make their community a better place to live. The first club was chartered in May of that year.

Saturday’s celebration will begin at 11 a.m. with a parade, which features Ruritan dignitaries, marching bands, floats and more.

“It’s going to be pretty weather, and we’re having a very nice parade this year,” said Donald Worrell, who is the third generation in a five-generation Ruritan family that started with his grandfather, who was a founding member of the Holland club.

After the parade, the barbecue cook-off will begin. Several area clubs will duke it out with their secret recipes in an attempt to win the people’s choice award. Holders of the $10 tickets — it’s the only thing the entire day for which there’s an admission charge — will get the opportunity to vote on their favorite.

“If you come and partake of the barbecue, you can vote on who from the area has cooked the best barbecue,” Worrell said.

Community displays and children’s and family activities — “We got the bouncy houses for the kids to come out and play,” Worrell said — will also commence after the parade. A DJ and other entertainment will be on hand, as well as Holland Athletic Association baseball games going on all day.

“There’s something going on nearly all day,” Worrell said. “Then by eight o’clock, it’s back to normal.”

After the folks in Holland founded the first Ruritan Club, it spread rapidly during the ensuing Great Depression, because folks needed to help each other to survive. Clubs hold fundraisers to spend on a variety of community needs.

For tickets, call 375-6218.

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