65th annual Chittlin’ Supper February 24

From left, front row, Meek High School Band of Champions student Vallyn Frith, Director Zach Cleghorn, past band director and event organization Nancy Frith and band student Daisy Galvan. Back row, from left, band students Gavin Wright and Grant Banks.

ARLEY     -  It’s kind of a “pig deal.”
The 65th annual Chittlin’ Supper, planned for Saturday, Feb. 24, will hopefully bring in one of the largest profits yet, all to benefit the Meek High School Band of Champions.
The event will kick off at 4 p.m. at the Meek Schools cafeteria with plenty of entertainment, fellowship and enough food for attendees to feel pigged out.
People come from both far and near for the event’s main attraction -- deep fried hog intestines known in the south as chittlins’.
MHS Band Director Zach Cleghorn noted the band does not receive any funding from the state.
“Our uniforms are almost 30 years old,” Cleghorn noted. “We have a marimba that is falling apart. Our French horns look like they have been run over in the road.”
The basic needs of the band are music, instruments and transportation costs for competitions and other band-related trips, organizers said.
“If we buy 50 uniforms, it’s going to cost somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000,” Cleghorn pointed out.
“People do not understand how much money things cost,” added former MHS Band Director Nancy Frith, who now helps organize the chittlin’ supper each year. “One instrument is $2,500.”
“A new marimba is $15,000,” added Cleghorn.
“Wouldn’t it be something if we could find a way to make enough money that band kids didn’t have to pay band fees,” Cleghorn added. “That would be a dream come true.
“The chittlin’ supper allows us to function,” Cleghorn pointed out.   “It’s a pillar of the community.  It really is everything to us.
“We base a lot of what we do going forward on what we make at the chittlin’ supper,” he added.
 “Last year, was one of those things where we made enough money to pay our bills for the year,” Cleghorn said.
With this being an election year, however, and the supper being held just a few days before the March 5, primary elections, organizers anticipate $2,000-$4,000 will be raised for the band of champions.
The funds raised vary, depending on if the races are local or contain such state races as the governor.
This election, Winston County has several local offices on the ballot, including superintendent and commission chairman, so the support those candidates will bring should be a major increase in attendance, compared to a non-political year, according to organizers.
The money raised comes from ticket prices, T-shirt sales, as well as candidate paying a fee to give a speech.
Candidates for local and state races will be out in full force at the supper, with candidates paying $100 to speak five minutes, as part of what has become a major political event, as well as a major band fundraiser, Cleghorn said.
Tickets for the event are $15 for adults, $12 for students, first responders and veterans, with children under age five charged $5, organizers said.
Tickets will be available  at the door the day of the event, or at the Meek High School (205) 384-5825) or Meek Elementary School offices (205) 221-9425.
Chittlin supper T-shirts with the logo “It’s a Pig Deal” are also on sale for $20.
There will be two separate food lines in the cafeteria, where the public can choose between chittlins’ or smoked chicken for those faint of heart or stomach.
Plates will consist of chittlins’, or smoked chicken accompanied by potato salad, slaw, baked beans, macaroni and cheese and cracklin’ cornbread.
Chittlins’ must undergo careful preparation before they can be served. Meek band students will meet on campus on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 8 a.m.-noon, to cut up the hog intestines into bite-sized morsels that will be boiled and pressure cooked.
After they go through this process, the chittlins’ will be placed in bags and frozen, being stored at the school cafeteria, until they are removed next week and deep fried in preparation for the supper, Cleghorn further explained.
The event will also feature the traditional hog calling and buck dancing contests,  capped off by the crowning of the highly coveted Chittlin’ King and Queen, each of whom will be a teacher selected by the Meek Schools student body, Cleghorn explained.
“We crown them, put a pig nose on them and all kind of craziness,” Cleghorn pointed out.
Entertaining the audience throughout the evening will be a student in an inflatable pig suit.
Live entertainment will include Hannah Jacobs, Kicks N’ Licks from Florence, Weston Hutchins and Cowgirl Up, according to organizers.
Door prizes will be given out throughout the evening thanks to generous donations from local businesses, organizers said.
MHS Principal Allen Henderson said the chittlin’ supper draws people from not just the local area, but throughout the state.
“We’re excited once again to be able to share this longstanding tradition at Meek High School, put on by our Band of Champions, for our community and the wonderful people across the State of Alabama who come to take part in this fundraiser each year,” Henderson pointed out.
“We greatly appreciate our sponsors and everyone who works so hard to make this a great success each year,” Henderson added.
“Our band family does a fantastic job making it happen,” he continued. “We look forward to seeing everyone come out to enjoy a night of fun, food, music and the chance to mingle with some of their favorite politicians and friends.”


See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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