Lions’ homemade burros a highlight of baseball tournament

Photo By Walt Mares: Morenci Lions Club members and their wives line up along long trestle table to shred pork that has just been pulled out of a pit where it cooked overnight. The extra-tender pork will be used to make burros for sale this week at the annual Lions Club Baseball Tournament, April 19-21, at Francis Waldorf Field in Morenci. The demand for the home-cooked burros has always been strong among spectators at the tournament.

Nine hundred pounds of pork cooked for the big, annual event

By Walt Mares

YORK VALLEY – There was a wonderful aroma in York Valley a couple of weekends ago. It was coming from Bryan and Roxanne Boling’s home.   It was the annual cooking by the Morenci Lions Club of hundreds of pounds of pork. 

The burros will be sold at the annual Morenci Lions Club in Morenci this week, April 19-21.

The Bolings have a six-foot-deep pit in which the large quantity of pork is cooked. The meat is first wrapped in tin foil and burlap. Then it is placed in the pit for 16-18 hours, meaning it cooks overnight. This year 900 lbs. of pork were cooked. Two hundred pounds of that was donated by the Danny Subia Family.

Photo By Walt Mares: A Morenci Lions Club member uses a hook to pull bundles of cooked pork and loads them on to a front-end loader. When the burlap bundles cool enough they will be opened, placed on top of a table and shredded by hand. This year, the Lions cooked 900 pounds of pork. The average time for the pit-cooking is 16-18 hours.

Around mid-morning, the bundles of pork are pulled from the pit, with the use of an iron hook, from the pit and loaded on to the bucket of a front-end loader. The bundles are then allowed to cool. The next step in the unwrapping of the bundles. That is when the aroma of the cooked meat is most detectable. The Bolings live on a hilltop and there is usually a mild breeze that carries the meat’s aroma and it wafts through much of York Valley. 

Once the meat has cooled sufficiently, it is unwrapped and then it is crunch time. A long trestle table has been laid out. On it are several tin foil trays, all of which are full of meat. Lions, their wives and anyone else willing to help stand along each side of the table. They all wear rubber gloves and begin the task of shredding, or pulling, the pork into bite-size pieces that will become burros. 

After the meat is shredded, it will be placed in large plastic bags and placed into two large freezers at the Bolings. The next step comes a couple of weeks later when the meat is thawed. The final stage occurs at the Francis Waldorf Field where the Morenci Lions annual baseball tournament is held. 

The burros will feed hundreds of hungry spectators during the three-day tournament from April 19-21. The burros help feed not only the hungry hometown crowd. There will be a total of 10 teams, along with their faithful fans, to feed. The roster of teams, of course, includes the hometown Morenci Wildcats.

The cook shack at Waldorf Field is kept busy – very busy – as Lions toil preparing each burro. By the time the championship game is held Saturday, the Lions will have sold just about most, if not all, of their burros.

Over the years, those eating the Lions’ burros have expressed regard for the high quality of their purchase. Others have commented on how each burro is in itself an entire meal. That is because the Lions do not skimp on the contents of their tortilla-wrapped confection.

                                        Tournament proceeds?

Where do the proceeds from all the Lions’ work go? It all goes back into the community through the many projects Morenci’s Lions. They include scholarships for graduating high school seniors. The Lions also have a special program that assists those in need to buy eyeglasses and Christmas is made at least a little bit brighter for families in need. 

“This is all about community,” Lion Tom Powers said. “That is what the Lions Club is all about. A whole lot of work goes into putting on our annual baseball tournament and the results you see are very, very positive. Club members are some of the most unselfish people you’ll ever meet.”