PARKERSBURG -It's become an annual tradition, and of the area's most popular events.
It's the Steak and Burger Dinner to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg, who will celebrate its 17th annual event on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Grand Pointe Conference Center in Vienna.
As always, the event will feature members of the West Virginia University football program. Although the previous dinners have been conducted on Thursday night, that's one of two nights during spring weeks Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen has designated for mandatory team workouts. Thus, the Steak and Burger will for the first time take place on Wednesday night.
The Steak and Burger Dinner was the brainchild of the Boys and Girls Club's long-time executive director, Mike Flanagan, and Parkersburg native Allan Johnson, a former strength and conditioning coach at WVU and Ohio Statewho now works at Northwestern University. Flanagan recently retired from the club, turning over the executive director's position to Ben Shuman, who is doing his best to maintain the traditions of the dinner, which annually raises approximately $35,000, which represents a little less than 10 percent of the organization's annual operating budget.
Shuman is awaiting a list of which WVU players will be attending the banquet, but he has been assured local players such as Parkersburg South's Michael Molinari will be among those making the trip from Morgantown to Vienna.
The Boys and Girls Club boasts a membership of approximately 1,000 youngsters. It also services another 800 to 1,000 youngsters through its community outreach program.
Although the work it performs on behalf of youth is priceless, an annual membership to the club is just $12. On a typical day, approximately 80 youngsters take advantage of the facility, a number that continues to increase on an annual basis. Shuman said in 2009, approximately 50 youths per day would visit the facility. In other words, daily visits are up approximately 60 percent. But the size of the staff has remained the same. That's one of Shuman's goals -to take a look at the staffing level of the facility.
Shuman is proud of recent improvements at the club's Mary Street facility -including a new heating system for the gymnasium and a revamped swimming pool, which serves as the home for the Parkersburg South High School swim program.
Shuman said the Steak and Burger Dinner will follow some of its traditional formats and also will see some changes. Although the main course will continue to be steak for Boys Club members and hamburgers for all others, it also will include twice baked potatoes, green beans, salads, cookies and brownies.
Festivities will begin at 6 p.m. with dinner served at 6:30. Each ticket holder may bring one item for WVU's players to sign.
Greg Smith, a member of the Boys and Girls Club's board of directors, will serve as the master of ceremonies. An auction featuring WVU items will be conducted. Shuman said he plans to shorten the duration of the auction by combining several items into one bidding unit.