ACUSHNET — Rain didn’t dampen the spirits of more than 150 hungry guests who attended the 5th annual Acushnet Lions Club clambake held on Saturday afternoon at White’s Pavilion on Lake Street.
According to Bruce Gadbois, president of the Acushnet Lions Club, the chapter is celebrating its 61st anniversary. The group has 70 members, many of whom were in attendance on Saturday to help prepare for the clambake.
“We provide seed money for eye research,” shares Gadbois, a longtime community volunteer. He adds that, last year, the Acushnet Lions Club donated more than $27,000 to support eye research and diabetes education and treatment, as well as other activities.
The organization supports scholarships and also makes donations to food pantries, provides wheelchairs and ramps to those in need, and allows individuals to borrow magnification devices for visually impaired individuals.
“The Lions Club is the largest nonprofit group in the world,” he adds, noting that since its inception the Acushnet Lions Club chapter has donated more than $500,000 to support a variety of causes.
In addition to the annual clambake, the Acushnet Lions Club also sponsors a food booth at the Apple-Peach Festival, an annual golf tournament, a duck race, numerous raffles throughout the year, and other fundraisers.
“It makes you feel good to give back to the community,” says Gadbois, adding that 90 percent of Acushnet Lions Club members are town residents.
On Saturday, the traditional seaweed and rock bake was prepared by bake masters Alan Walters and Brad Wordell, both from Little Compton, R.I., who were assisted by Lions Club members.
“We’ve been putting on clambakes for 20 years,” shares Walters, describing the process as “labor intensive.”
Wordell adds that the seaweed is usually harvested along the shores of Westport and Little Compton.
“It takes about an hour for the clams and the veggies to steam,” tells Wordell, noting that the hot rocks reach a temperature of 1,300-1,500 degrees Fahrenheit as the food cooks.
“If it’s not cooked in a hour, it won’t cook,” the bake master continues. “You have to work quickly.”
Lions Club member and Acushnet resident Robert St. Pierre says that in addition to the camaraderie, many local residents attend the clambake for the food.
“No one ever leaves here hungry,” St. Pierre quips. “There is always plenty of food.”
Beginning with homemade chowder and clam cakes, guests enjoyed Maine clams, white potatoes and yams, linguica and hot dogs, corn on the cob, baked sliced codfish, watermelon, wine, homemade sangria and plenty of ice cold beer.
Howard Plaud of Rochester, an Acushnet Lions Club for 27 years, continues to enjoy his association with the organization.
“It’s a great way to give to the community,” he emphasizes, adding that the members have fun, make lifelong friends and have an opportunity to change lives.
“We are all volunteers,” Plaud says. “We are all equals. We don’t toot our own horn.”