Serving Up Shrimp

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, October 18, 2012

Members of the Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven will celebrate their 25th annual Shrimp Dinner at the Brookhaven Recreation Department from 3-7 p.m. Thursday.

     Valarie Olgesby, 2012 Shrimp Dinner chairperson, said this year’s event figures to be another successful one. Making 25 years for any event is an accomplishment, and it’s something Oglesby is especially proud of.

     “It’s a big deal,” she said. “We’re super excited about this year’s dinner.”

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     Fellow JA member Gerri Miller said celebrating 25 years of the event is really about the people who worked to get JA to where it is now.

     “It’s a testament to those who came before us,” she said. “They’re the ones who have helped us get here.”

     Miller also complimented Olgesby on her work so far.

     “She has done an amazing job with this,” she said.

     This year will also bring in two new things for the group, as they will be selling T-shirts and cookbooks for the first time.

     “We’re especially excited about the new things we have this year,” said Olgesby.

     The Shrimp Dinner is Junior Auxiliary’s only fundraiser.

     “We use the funds from this to fund all of our service projects throughout the year in Lincoln County,” Oglesby said. “The children here have many needs, and we want to be able to fill those needs.”

     Miller wanted to thank Brookhaven Recreation Department Director Terry Reid for allowing them to use the facility for the Shrimp Dinner.

     “Terry and his staff are extremely accommodating,” she said. “We could not do it without them.”

     Another important component are the many former JA members who come back for the event to help out and share advice from past dinners.

     One such member is Celeste Carty, who participated in JA’s first Shrimp Dinner in 1987. She said the dinner has advanced a great deal since the first event, but each year’s edition has its own stories.

     Carty said the first dinner saw 300 pounds of shrimp prepared, but over the years they’ve increased that number and now 600 pounds of shrimp is cooked.

     For one event several years ago, Carty recalled JA deciding to make the slaw instead of buying it. But a problem occurred when the scoopers they were going to use for the slaw were bigger than they had accounted for, and they nearly ran out before the night ended.

     Carty said many individual stories run through the history of the Shrimp Dinner, but there is one common thread that holds them together.

     “We always find a way to make it work,” she said.