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Waterford FFA Chapter celebrates with community hog roast

Photo by Peyton Neely Junior Gavinn Tornes scoops mashed potatoes onto the plate of Waterford resident Charlene Wagner, 67, during the Waterford FFA Hog Roast on Wednesday at Waterford High School.

WATERFORD — For 34 years, the Waterford FFA Chapter has been showing thanks to the community with an annual hog roast.

“This is a pay-it-forward type of event,” said Matt Hartline, FFA adviser for Waterford High School. “It’s the kids’ chance to give back to the community and not ask for anything back.”

The program, held Wednesday at the school, has been a community tradition since 1983. Students in the FFA spend all night before the lunch prepping the food they serve to the community. The event falls during National FFA Week.

This year’s menu consisted of barbecue or plain roast pork, baked beans, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, rolls, dessert and a drink.

“We use our DB Yummers BBQ sauce that we sell in our fundraisers,” said FFA President Trinity Jager.

Hogs weighing almost 240 pounds were prepped at the Pine Ridge Meat Processing facility, then smoked in two smokers at the high school. The hogs were donated from Campbell’s Hog Farm in Waterford.

All members of the FFA were required to work from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday then again when the event started at 11:30 a.m. Head cook at Waterford High School, Cathy Crock, helped the students with preparation the night before.

“I helped with the sauerkraut and potatoes,” she said. “The kids came in and helped me. Matt asked if I was staying all night and I told him ‘no, I’d see them first thing in the morning.'”

Hartline said out of the 35 students in the FFA program, more than 25 of them served on the committee for this project.

“It takes a long time and a lot of work,” said sophomore Stefani Saunders. “To stay up all night then go home and sleep for a few hours only to come back and serve, I’m tired but it’s so much fun.”

Wolf Creek Superintendent Doug Baldwin said they had the hog roast when he was in high school and since being with the district as an educator and administrator, he’s attended the event for 25 years.

“This event is a big deal in the community,” he said. “It’s a way for our kids to thank the community for their support of both the FFA program and Waterford High School.”

Many residents have attended the event for decades. Charlene Wagner, 67, of Waterford, enjoyed the day with her girlfriends while showing support for the FFA students.

“They’ve been doing this for such a long time,” she said. “The kids have a good time doing it and the community really enjoys it, too.”

Tom Kerns, 69, of Waterford, was enjoying the pulled pork with a classmate he had not seen for years.

“It’s a good thing for our kids to be involved in something like this,” he said. “It’s also a nice time to visit with people you haven’t seen in awhile.”

The community event is the largest in size that the FFA hosts. More than 500 people were invited and Hartline estimated the FFA would serve, along with to-go orders, around 600 or more during lunch on Wednesday.

“This is a great community function,” said Larry Schwendeman, 70, of Watertown. “People in the community seem to respond to it and everyone has fun.”

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