Bye, bye Babe Ruth, Hello Kiwanians

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Andalusia Kiwanis Club is expecting 150 people to visit Andalusia this week when it hosts the state convention.

Organizers hope to both bring people to the community and prestige to the local club, known for raising thousands of dollars for local projects through the Kiwanis Covington County Fair.

Alabama Kiwanians will begin arriving Friday, and the event opens at 6 p.m. They will be welcomed by Alab-ama’s Kiwanis governor and by Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson.

“Then we’ll eat and play,” Kiwanis president Steve Thomas said.

Friday night’s activities will have a fair theme, in keeping with the local club’s annual fundraiser. Supper will be a meal of “fair food,” and rides will be set up on the midway for Kiwanians and their children.

Saturday’s sessions are training and education events.

Seth Hammett, former Alabama Speaker of the House and current chairman of Gov. Robert Bentley’s Alabama Economic Development Alliance, will speak to the group at 11.

The luncheon speaker is Dick Burleson. An engineer by profession, Burleson also is a former head referee for the Southeastern Conference and currently works as a staff adviser on officiating, evaluating officials’ performance each Saturday from the press box and assisting with instant replay. His book, “You Better be Right,” reached the bestsellers list at Barnes and Noble bookstores.

The convention concludes on Sunday with a board meeting and memorial breakfast.

Gwen Kelley, Andalusia’s Kiwanis president-elect, said there is no charge to visiting Kiwanians for “admission” to the Friday’s fair, but participants are being asked to donate school supplies at the door in support of the state Kiwanis partnership with the American Red Cross to have clear backpacks filled with supplies on hand for use when children need supplies because of a disaster. Members of Andalusia High School’s Key Club will be on hand Saturday to assemble the backpacks.

Among the break-out sessions for Kiwanians on Saturday is a “pancake day fundraiser advice.” Before they get to that session, participants can see first-hand how it’s done when members of the local Pilot Club, whose main fundraiser is a pancake breakfast at the Kiwanis Center every December, serve pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Kelley said the local Kiwanis Club contracted with the Pilot Club to provide breakfast both days. Jeff and Laquette Grimes will cater lunch and dinner on Saturday.

Another highlight will be entertainment on Saturday afternoon and early evening by Maggie Blue and special guest Ray Reach.