HISTORY OF THE DILLSBURG LIONS CLUB
On November 4, 1931 a group of ladies from St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Dillsburg, PA served dinner to forty -seven residents of the Dillsburg area who had met for the purpose of organizing the Dillsburg Lions Club. On November 9, 1931 the York Lions Club known today as the Downtown York Lions Club presented the charter to the Dillsburg Lions Club thereby making that organization officiallly a part of the International Association of Lions Clubs.
During the early 1930's as the Dillsburg Lions Club began its service. The United States was experiencing a serious depression thus making many people jobless. As a result, the new Dillsburg Lions Club did not see rapid growth and there are very few records of the club's early activities to provide information for this history until 1942.
In the early years of World War II the club had between 15 and 18 members. Meetings wre held in the back room of Nesbit's Restaurant in the middle of the business block on South Baltimore Street. The club was heavily engaged in war activities such as selling Bonds,writing to local servicemen, donationg blood, raising funds for the United Service Organization (USO), equipping ambulances, etc. Showing that "We Serve" has few bounds, around this time, a special committee of Lions battled a severe rat problem in town. The war years were rough years, but the Lions persisted, and by the end of 1946 the club had grown to 35 members.
One of the meeting activities during this period of time for all Lions Clubs was to sing songs at every meeting. The Dillsburg lLions even hired a pianist and had a quartet that sany together for many years. The quartet also sang in many churches and Sunday Schools in the Central Pennsylvanis area and at other affairs such as festivals and parties. The Dillsburg Lions wre active in making many visitations to other clubs and these other clubs would also visit with us during our regular meetings. The club became involved in many community projects such as building a consolidated school, starting a Parent Teachers Association, sponsoring an Easter egg hunt for children, helping to get a new industry started in Dillsburg, and the planning efforts to build a new combined Fire House and Community Hall.
In support of the new Fire House project, the Dillsburg Lions Club promised to give the Fire Company $1,000.00 each year for a total of three years to help pay for the new building. When they made this pledge, the club did not know where the $3,000.00 would come from. To provide the needed funds, the club staged a milnstrel show each year to raise the money for the Fire House project. The minstrel shows began around 1950-51 and were so successful that they were taken on the road to York, Mechanicsburg and Dover for performances. Participants all agreed the shows were fun, but as times changed., the minstrel shows were discontinued. Variety shows instead became the new approach and these shows met with an equal amount of success.
The Dillsburg Lions have been actively involved for all its 79 years in the Dillsburg Farmer's Fair. In fact, the Lions were instrumental in helping revive the fair. The fair celebrated the agricultural heritage and continuing agricultural industry of the Dillsburg community. The fair includes agricultural exhibits, parades, food concessions and contests. A children's parade on the Friday night of the three day fair has marchers who are up to 12 years of age. Saturday of Farmer's Fair is a full day of events culminating in the Fantastic Parade. When the weather is good, there are in excess of 35,000 people attending the events. Throughout the years the Dillsburg Lions have been a strong supporter of the Farmers Fair as well as making it a good fund raising opportunity.
In years past the club purchased bleachers that are used at school district sporting fields throughout the year. The club maintains the bleachers and repairs damage and keeps them painted. During Farmers Fair, the club members move the bleachers to line the streets in downtown Dillsburg for use by people watching the parades. Sales of bleacher seat tickets provide one fund raiser. During Farmer's Fair, the club also sells balloons and for a number of years made and sold pizzas from one of the food concessions. The club now gives the pizza stand concession to the Boy Scout Troop that the club sponsors. The club members have been parade marshals in past years. The club also provides service to the Farmer's Fair committee by originally purchasing materials and constructing the judge's stand. The club now maintains the stand setting it up and tearing it down each year and then storing it from year to year. Sunday morning after the fair you will see the Dillsburg Lions out in force along with the Boy Scout Troop to remove bleachers, tear down the judge's stand and clean up tons of trash from Baltimore St. Our Farmer's Fair support does not end with these fund raising and service activities. The club also provides funding to sponsor a band to march in the parade, and also to pay the cost of a musical group to provide entertainment following the Fantastic Parade.
The Farmer's Fair publishes a newspaper called "The Dill Pickle" for both fair publicity and to raise funds for the fair. The paper contains many advertisements from sponsors, and in years past the Dillsburg Lions were active in going out to sell the advertisement space. The sale of bleacher seats has been one of the clubs most successful projects to raise funds. The income is consistent from year to year, and the tickets are usually all sold out by the time of the fair.