THREE OAKS — A farm-raised whole hog prepared by New Buffalo Bill’s was the guest of honor, but the local community was the main beneficiary at the July 20 Rotary Club of Harbor Country Pig Roast.

Food, drink, live music, homemade pies (with River Valley High School Interact Club member Dori Erickson helping serve slices) and the atmosphere of a lively block party at the stately Three Oaks home of Gene and Carole Svebakken drew several hundred people, and a few brief showers helped take the edge of what had been a very hot Saturday.

Rotary Club of Harbor Country President David Stevenson said revenue raised at the annual celebration make it possible for the club to seek matching grants from sources such as the Rotary District, the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, The Pokagon Fund and others to fund local projects than enhance the community (see list below in this article).

“My goal is to double whatever money we get from here,” he said.

Club member Donna Jo Allen spent much of the evening painting people’s pinkies with purple nail polish in exchange for contributions to the Rotary International Polio Plus campaign to eliminate the disease.

After club member Tom Flint announced that just $20 more was needed for the club set a record in its “purple pinkie” drive during the Pig Roast (and The Erly, the second band of the evening, played “Purple Rain”) a new record was set.

Volunteering to help serve dinner during the event was Rotary District Governor Margie Haas of Hastings, Mich.

She also helped auction off her special “Cheery Cherry Cherry Berry Pie” for $100 to high-bidder Laura Jolly to benefit Rotary charities between songs by The Erly (self-described amateur auctioneer Frank Schmidt took the bids).

“It has eight cups of fruit in it, two kinds of cherries, and blueberries,” Haas said.

Haas later described the Pig Roast as “a fabulous party” put on by the Harbor Country club that helps support “all the things they do for the community.”

She said programs that support literacy have a special place in her heart since she is a school teacher and former principal.

“Literacy and education change people’s lives and help them get out of poverty,” Haas added.

Rotary Club of Harbor Country projects include: Supplying Birthday Books to elementary students in the New Buffalo and River Valley districts; co-sponsoring the Mighty Acorn educational program and the current #10Trails effort with Chikaming Open Lands; spearheading the drive to install outdoor adult exercise equipment in New Buffalo Township’s Memorial Park; providing Christmas Food baskets for local families in need; helping the River Valley Interact Club establish a food and supplies closet (“The Corral”) via a grant; partnering with the Lakeside Association to keep the Lakeside Ice Cream Social tradition alive on the first Saturday in August; providing crossing guard volunteers for the Apple Cider Century; distributing hats and mittens to 250 local students; helping the River Valley Senior Center obtain portable room dividers; sending local high school students to an annual Rotary Youth Leadership Academy; volunteering at mobile food pantry visits; helping with the River Valley Blessings in a Backpack program; “adopting” a mile of U.S. 12 for clean-ups; and more.

Stevenson said the club’s most recent contribution to the community was funding half the cost of a $7,500 touch-screen “My Senior Center” system to help the River Valley Senior Center keep better track of how patrons are using the facility.

“They’ve been doing it manually and it’s very cumbersome, time consuming and inefficient,” he said.

The Rotary Club of Harbor Country meets every Friday at 7:30 a.m. at the Lakeside United Methodist Church, 14970 Lakeside Road. For more, send an email to or log on to

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.