Best bet in Holland

Published 9:47 pm Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ever since the U.S. Route 58 bypass was built around Holland, the little village in southwestern Suffolk has been a place pretty much lost to time. Except for the folks who live there, most people think of Holland as a bump in the main road, a long curve in the road on the drive toward Franklin and points west. Some know it as a sleepy little village with a flashing traffic light at its only intersection. For the most part, folks in Holland are pleased to live in relative obscurity, relishing the quiet of their peaceful corner of Suffolk.

But for one weekend a year, the village becomes the center of the universe for a group that has its roots in the Holland of a different time. This weekend marks Founders’ Day in Holland, a time when Ruritans from all around flock to the former Nansemond County town to celebrate the incorporation of an organization that has given Holland a revered place in history.

Ruritan, a concept that would later spread across the country, was founded 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.

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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. Today, clubs hold fundraisers and spend the money they’ve raised on a wide variety of needs within the various communities in which Ruritan clubs operate.

Many of the clubs work locally with FFA, 4-H and other local organizations serving youth, and nearly one in three clubs sponsors a Boy Scout or Girl Scout unit, according to Ruritan.org. The organization boasts nearly 30,000 members in more than 1,100 communities throughout the United States.

Founders’ Day on Saturday will feature a parade at 11 a.m., along with a barbecue cook-off, community displays, children’s and family activities, a DJ and other family friendly entertainment.

The event always feels like a step back in time, and every once in a while it’s nice to be reminded what life used to be like when things moved a little bit more slowly, and the world was a simpler place.

As is always the case this time of year, there will be many things competing for your time on Saturday. Consider the Founders’ Day event in Holland a best bet.