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Pa. ox roast serves up good food for worthy local causes

August 04, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - About a ton of beef was consumed one sandwich at a time Friday and Saturday at the 52nd Annual Mt. Parnell Lions Club Ox Roast on the grounds of American Legion Detrich-Brechbill Post No. 612 on U.S. 30 west in St. Thomas.

Lions Club member Frank Newman of Chambersburg, Pa., said the ox roast attracts about 5,000 people every year. He and other club members cooked 1,300 pounds of beef Friday and another 800 pounds Saturday in a large, gas-fired cooker on the premises. The meat is sliced or ground, then served on potato rolls.

The broth left in the cooker after the huge chunks of beef are removed is used to make soup.

Twenty-year Lions Club member Dan Brechbill of Greencastle, Pa., used the broth, beef, 100 pounds of noodles, 50 cans of vegetables and other ingredients to make vats of noodle soup and vegetable soup.

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"We broke him in about five years ago," Betty Wingert said.

Wingert, of St. Thomas, used to make the soup and was assisting at the food stand Saturday.

Also on the menu were french fries, assorted homemade cakes and coffee.

The first ox roast, held in the 1950s in Markes, Pa., made $700 profit, Newman said.

"Now we clear about $10,000," he said.

Newman said some of the proceeds go for eye care, and to anyone in need locally.

This year, a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Jill Sipes Cancer Fund. Sipes, 32, a mother of three from Mercersburg, Pa., was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in July 2002, the day after her youngest daughter was born.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins and at Mercy Hospital, both in Baltimore, told Sipes her condition was hopeless after three rounds of chemotherapy failed to shrink the tumors. She has been receiving treatments in Mexico.

Don Earley of St. Thomas, public relations manager for the club, said some of the proceeds also go through the International Lions Project to Leader Dogs and Special Olympics.

The club gives out food certificates to local families at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"One hundred percent goes to charity," Earley said. "The Lions Club International bylaws stipulate that every cent we collect after expenses has to go to charity. It is not used for parties or banquets - those come out of the members' pockets."

The only surviving charter member of the Mt. Parnell Lions Club, Harry

Unger, 80, of Mercersburg, still assists with the ox roast. He and hiswife, Janet, were scheduled to refill the condiments on the outer tables, their daughter, Pat Brechbill, said. Ketchup, chopped onions, and horseradish are offered as accompaniments to the sandwiches.

Janet Coldsmith served up a ground beef sandwich on a potato roll for a customer. The Chambersburg resident said she has been helping with the ox roast for more than 30 years.

More than 5,000 rolls were purchased for the event.

Sisters Carley and Kenna Shaffer attended the ox roast Saturday afternoon with their mother, Terry Shaffer of St. Thomas. Carley, 5, will start kindergarten at St. Thomas Elementary School in a few weeks. She said she liked the french fries best, and added that she had vanilla and chocolate ice cream when her family visited the ox roast Friday evening.

Kenna, who is almost 3, said she liked the twirl ride Friday evening.

The Lions Club provides a few carnival rides as an attraction for children on the Friday and Saturday evenings of the ox roast.

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