Jimmy Browne of Blackwater stirs a big batch of whole-hog BBQ while Pat Mallon pours in the sauce during the Creeds Ruritan Bar-B-Que in 2015. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

BACK BAY — Every year since 1976, the Creeds Ruritan Club has held one of its major fundraising events, the Whole Hog Bar-B-Que, at its community complex in rural Virginia Beach.

Until last year, that is. The annual barbeque and spring craft show in 2020 was a casualty of the early weeks of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which can cause the disease Covid-19.

It was a disappointment for the community, which usually packs the barbeque and craft show. The Ruritans take the proceeds of this and other fundraisers and do good works, including scholarships for local students, holiday baskets that help dozens of local families and even some direct help when people need it.

“This has been one of major fundraisers for the Creeds Ruritans for almost 45 years,” said Dennis Keane, vice president of the club. “Last year, we did not do it because of Covid, but this year we’re going to take a different approach.”

The 45th Annual Whole Hog Bar-B-Que is on, he and club president Keith Stevenson said, but this year it will be a drive-through to help keep locals and club members safe during the ongoing pandemic.

There won’t be a craft show due to restrictions on public gatherings, but – again – the meal is on. People can buy tickets, drive through and pick up their food.

It is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 20, at the Creeds Ruritan Community Complex, 1057 Princess Anne Road. Tickets are on sale. They are $10, and they will be available through club members. There will be some available at the event, though the club is encouraging people to buy tickets in advance.

The menu is whole-hog barbeque, baked beans, coleslaw, dinner rolls and a drink.

“Unfortunately, due to the pandemic last year, that was the first time we ever had to cancel it,” Stevenson said. “What we hope this year – recognizing there is an ongoing pandemic and recognizing the need for safety for the public and our club members – we’re going to a drive-through event rather than the sit-down event we’ve had in the past.”

“All the money we get goes back into the community in some shape or form,” Keane said.

Despite challenges with fundraising last year, the Ruritans still gave back. They provided support to Creeds School and the Creeds Athletic Association, awarded about $5,000 in scholarship money in conjunction with the Blackwater Foundation, and there was a lot of support for the Christmas food baskets, in part, because people realized there was so much need during the pandemic.

“We were able to assist 29 families, 84 people total,” Stevenson said, noting it was a slight increase from the previous year. “We were not only able to provide a substantial amount of food, but Visa gift cards. … I think there was a lot of recognition in the community that there were people who needed a little more help because of the times.”

The Ruritans are also seeking sponsorships from local businesses this year, Keane said. Sponsorships cost $150, and businesses get 10 tickets in return, as well as recognition in materials for the event and during it, of course. This would help the club if sales are slower than in a normal year.

Stevenson is the point of contact for sponsorships, and he can be reached at (757) 589-3352 or via email at donald.stevenson@cox.net. More information will be available at the Creeds Ruritan public group on Facebook.

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