90 years of community service

Published 5:52 pm Thursday, March 15, 2018

May 19 will mark the 90th birthday of the Holland Ruritan Club, and it’s also the 90th birthday of the first Ruritan Club in the United States.

“The Mother Club” was made up of 35 men for the purpose of bringing together farmers, business and professional members.

“Ruritan started out as those involved in agriculture — farmers and the people of Holland — getting together to air out their problems,” said Holland Ruritan Club president Joe Simmons. “Now there are about 1,100 clubs with about 30,000 members scattered across the country.”

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The original club was commemorated by a monument in 1958. The 9-foot-high granite monument was unveiled on May 25, 1958. Ruritan National holds the deed to the land.

While Ruritan clubs have grown across the nation, the Holland Ruritan Club has grown in its ideals.

The Holland Ruritan Founder’s Day Parade always features a fun assortment of beauty queens, marching bands and shriners’ units.


“Within the last 20 years, we started taking in female members,” Simmons said. “It has made the biggest difference. The women are the hardest-working members, and we get a different perspective in meetings.”

Ruritans live by the words fellowship, goodwill and community service.

“We try and make the community the best we can,” Simmons said.

The Holland Ruritan Club regularly holds fundraisers to donate money to other organizations as well as to provide scholarships to the youth in the area. Some of their fundraisers include Boston butt sales, Sunday luncheons and the barbecue cook-off at the annual Founder’s Day.

“I got involved with the club when my daughter was awarded the scholarship,” Simmons said. “I came to watch and never really left.”

The club will be holding its annual Founder’s Day celebration this May 19 and it will be the biggest celebration in history. The day will begin with an opening ceremony at 10:30 a.m., and the festivities will end with a fireworks show at 9 p.m.

The entire celebration is free and open to the public, except the barbecue cook-off. The cook-off, happening at noon, will cost $10 in advance and $12 at the gate. Most of those entered in the competition are Ruritan Club members.

Along with the cook-off will be a parade, a car show and live music.

The car show is a first for the celebration and will feature custom cars and trucks. Those that want to show their cars have to pay $20 in advance or $25 on-site, but the event is free for spectators.

Cars can be seen from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in downtown Holland.