Clayton Lions History 1995  

Our club was chartered on December 8, 1965. We had 18 charter members, six are deceased and four are still active Lions. We were sponsored by the Turtle Lake Lions Club and our charter dinner was held at the Coachman Supper Club at Baldwin, Wisconsin. Bernie Kiugow, a Wisconsin Fire Ranger and graduate of Clayton High School; along with Jim Foster, the current district governor; and Shefec Monsur, the Wisconsin State Lions secretary, was instrumental in recruiting and organizing our Club during the fall of '1965:

  Our first order of business was to organize and put on a Clayton community celebration. It had been many years since Clayton had a special day of its own. It was our decision to capitalize on the dairy aspect of our state and surrounding farming community. The Stella Cheese Company plant was our biggest industry and employer. No other community in the area was using a dairy theme and we felt the time was right for a promotion featuring Wisconsin's great dairy industry. The Stella Cheese plants in Glenwood City and Amery were being phased out and the manufacturing of blue cheese by the Stella Cheese Company had been moved to the Clayton Plant. Blue Cheese, being very unique and not being made in many plants in Wisconsin or elsewhere, seemed a natural item to promote as no one else, that we were aware of, was featuring this product. We discussed the idea with the management of the Stella Cheese Company and they encouraged us to follow through and offered to provide tours of a portion of their plant and serve cheese snacks during our celebration. We also contacted the Polk-Burnett County Dairy Promotion Committee and offered to provide the setting for the Z-county Dairy Princess Coronation. The Committee was happy to accept our invitation and bring contestants to Clayton for the event. Thus, Blue Cheese Day was created and held as a l-day affair on June 12, 1967. We featured the Glen Hi Riders Horse Show, a Country Western street dance, the Dairy Princess Coronation, and food and fun stands by fifteen local clubs and groups. The whole affair was held on

a Sunday on the main street of downtown Clayton. Our Lions Club sold buttons and tickets for a raffle which offered a 15-foot fiberglass canoe as the grand prize. The proceeds of the raffle were used to purchase and erect two signs placed on Highway 63 proclaiming Clayton as the "Blue Cheese Capital of the World". One of the food stands run by the Joel Homemakers featured "blue cheeseburgers" made on a grill owned by Joe and Bev Thompson. Later this grill was purchased by our Club and it has continued to produce blue cheeseburgers for 30 Years.

Our "Blue Cheese Day" evolved into an annual event and expanded into a two, three, and four day affair. We moved a number of the events to the ball field area, added many new attractions as the years passed on, enlisted the support and help of the Clayton Fire Department, the Richardson Sportsmen's Club, the Clayton School, and continued to encourage the participation of many local clubs and groups. When Wisconsin Dairies purchased the Stella Cheese plant in Clayton they continued to support the celebration in many ways. At that time we renamed our day "Clayton Cheese Days" because the production of blue cheese was not continued by Wisconsin Dairies. Clayton Cheese Days originated the first of many events which quickly caught on and became a regular feature of many other community celebrations. Among these were the first demolition derbies, the first 2K-10K runs, the first softball tournaments, the first canoe/bike/run triathlons, the first drum and bugle corps performance, the first sky diving show, and the first money dropped from the sky.

  The proceeds from our annual cheese days celebration has been the main source of funding for the many charitable causes the Clayton Lions Club supports. The entire Clayton community has always supported the Cheese Day promotion and without their help we would never have been able to contribute to these worthy projects in the amounts we donated.

  Local support has been given by our Lions Club over the past 35 years to all of these community projects:

Scholarship Fund

Cub Scout Sponsor

Ball field Improvements

Boys State Sponsor

Fire Department Gear

Homecoming Treats

First Responders

Halloween Party

Santa Claus Day

Athletic Banquet

Fruit Basket Distribution

Prom Lock-in

Blood Pressure Testing

Lake Camelia Aeration

Student Trips

Shrine Circus Trips

Boy Scout Sponsor

Sportsmen's Club Well

In addition the Clayton Lions Club has made many donations to the State, National, and International projects including:

Wisconsin Lions Foundation Camp--Rosholt, WI

Leader Dog School--Rochester, MI

Fight for Sight--UW Hospital, Madison, WI

Sight First Campaign--a world-wide project

Also, the Clayton Lions have organized and run our athletic event raffles which have supported the Clayton Summer Recreation Program for a number of years.

Our club presently has 22 members. Over the years many new members have been recruited and many have left for one reason or another. The maximum membership has never exceeded 30 members, but we have survived and will continue to survive with the great community support we have always received from the Clayton area.

Written by Lion Norm Murray, Charter Member, December 1995, 30th Anniversary 

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