Cook-off is one of many Lions events

With a town population of about 2,700, it is noteworthy that one organization — the Cayucos Lions — has more than 95 active members. And more laudable is the group’s ability to inspire the energy and volunteers to produce so many community events.

The Fourth of July parade and barbecue is its signature event. Thousands of visitors line Ocean Avenue to enjoy the all-American marching groups, classic cars, dancers and walkers, sirens and floats. All stand at attention as the American flag passes by multiple times. The parade sets a festive tone for the patriotic community celebration.

The Lions also produce its Flag Day Celebration this month, a golf tournament in June, Law Enforcement and Firemen Appreciation Night in September, Alaska Halibut Night in October, the Cayucos Car Show in November and Toys for Tots in December, and they combine efforts with the Cayucos Lioness Club for a January food and wine event benefiting scholarships.

This month, it’s a chili cook-off from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Veterans Memorial Lions Hall. Businesses and individuals can enter for $10.

“Last year, we decided to do an event to bring the local people together just to have a good time,” the Lions’ Dick Moon said. “We offered a traditional chili cook-off with some entertaining music. It worked and sold out the veterans hall. We invite visitors, too.”

Moon suggests signing up early. The club has room to accept only the first 20 entries. Chili recipes can combine any ingredients — except beans. The event is free for the public; however, to taste and judge, all entries cost a mere $5 donation.

Chip Van Natten of Cayucos, the Lions Club’s favorite auctioneer, won last year’s competition.

President Jim Cox said proceeds from this and most Lions events support the club’s vision programs — eye exams and frames for locally selected youths and adults.

“We are affiliated with a San Francisco clinic which provides surgeries for severe eye care problems. We’ve helped two or three from Cayucos in the past few years,” Cox said. “We are also building a fund to repair the picnic area near the veterans hall. Most don’t realize the Lions Club manages the veterans hall and the skate park for the county.”

The group was formed in 1948, and the membership has lived up to the international Lions motto “We Serve” with an incredible list of improvements, scholarships and celebrations developed for Cayucos over the years.

But for the chili cook-off, Moon just wants everyone to come out and have a tasty afternoon of Lions-style fellowship to the tunes of Cheryl and the Tornados.

Reach Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or jsalamacha@yahoo.com.