BRANDON, Fla. — Welcoming guests to the Brandon Elks Lodge #2383 for a Labor Day picnic on Sept. 5, is always delight for Leading Knight Delores Westfall.
As friends and family from Brandon enjoy their barbecue feast in the Lodge dining hall, and celebrate the end of summer, Westfall said this afternoon is about the contributions and achievements of American workers and veterans.
“We have been hosting the Labor Day picnics ever since the Brandon Elks became a lodge in 1968,” Westfall said. “Each year, we also put together Memorial Day picnics and Fourth of July picnics. When the Elks organize these picnics, we make a commitment to celebrate the working men and women that make our country great, as well as honoring our military veterans for protecting us.”
On its website , The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is regarded as one of the oldest and largest fraternal organizations in the United States, which was founded by Joseph M. Norcross in 1868. Since then, the Elks has grown to include nearly 1.2 million men and woman in almost 2,200 communities in the United States.
“There is a lot of history with the Elks,” Westfall said. “On Feb. 16, 2018, we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary and the National Elk’s will be celebrating their 150th anniversary as a national fraternal organization. That is why the street our Lodge is on is called ‘Centennial Lodge Drive.’ ”
Brandon, Florida Lodge #2383 hosted the picnic with a Redneck Triathlon, where guests of all ages have a friendly competition playing games like corn hole, darts, and shooting paper targets with BB Guns. Lunch was served from 12 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., where adults and children treat themselves to finger-licking foods like hamburgers, hotdogs, pulled pork, and even macaroni and cheese.
“Whenever I come to the Labor Day picnic, I like to think of it as an annual armed forces day because I get to see my old military buddies here, and praise the men and women for protecting our country,” said Bernie Hiskey, a former U.S. Air Force navigator during the Vietnam War. “What I would love to see at the next picnic is Smoked Baby Back Ribs, and grilled corn on the cob.”
Though the Past Exhalted Ruler of the Brandon Lodge is not the only fan of smoked barbecue ribs.
“I like my ribs smoked with dry rub because that is how my husband makes them at home,” said Denise Moody, a bartender at the Labor Day picnic.