DIGHTON — It got messy, but no one seemed to be too bothered. Under a brilliant late-summer blue sky, the annual clambake, sponsored by the Dighton Lions Club, drew more than 200 people.

It got messy, but no one seemed to be too bothered.

Under a brilliant late-summer blue sky, the annual clambake, sponsored by the Dighton Lions Club, drew more than 200 people.

Jean and Joe Pacheco, both of Dighton, have attended the bake for the last few years and have enjoyed it each time.

“Besides helping the Lions, I love the clams,” said 65-year-old Jean. “The Lions do so much for the community and with the new bakemaster, it should be interesting.”

Her husband’s objective remains the same each year.

“I’m just here for the clams,” said 70-year-old Joe.

This is the first year the Reese family has taken over as the bakemasters.

Ed Reese does it with his brother, Myron Jr., and his mother, Lillian, the 89-year-old matriarch of the family.

“My family has been baking for 40 years,” Ed said. “It all began with my dad, who had been a baker since 1923.”

According to Ed, the day’s schedule ran according to plan. He’d been out getting it all started since sunrise.

“It’s been smoldering for a good hour,” he said. “It’s going like clockwork.”

Ed Olney and Tom Ferry, both Lions members, manned one the serving tables.

Olney explained how everyone had an assignment. There were four people, along with the bakemasters, who were responsible for uncovering the bake once it was done, then there were four people per each of the three serving tables, who stood ready to dish it out.

Donna Briggs, 51, of Dighton came with her family, 72-year-old Charlie and 71-year-old Alice Mello, 32-year-old Jen Mello and 5-year-old Emma Mello, who was at the event for the first time.
“We’ve been coming here since the beginning,” Briggs said. “It’s a great atmosphere and it’s nice to be a part of a small community and help the Lions at the same time.”

She explained they were at the event last year and said due to extenuating circumstance, it wasn’t so good.

“We’re really looking forward to this one,” she added.

Once the smoldering meal was ready, Ed took guidance from his mother, who took a taste and gave a thumbs-up and directed the volunteers in pulling off the heavy, hot canvases.

Then, other volunteers grabbed the hot baskets that held all the tasty sides, along with the mesh bags full of clams and carried them all over the serving tables.

Steve Elderkian, 49, of Dighton and Steve Burns, 39, of Taunton were there for the first time. They heard about it through Ed Reese.

Reese’s brother Myron, has baked with his family all his life and as much as he likes it, he’s always glad once another bake is over and declared a success.

“I like eating it right off the fire,” he said. “That’s part of what gives me the satisfaction, knowing that’s cooked and we did well.”

Everyone sat at picnic tables as long as the length of the pavilion and whoever couldn’t fit there, spilled out to sit under the tent next to it. Some even grabbed a few spots at the picnic tables next to the playground.

The Leites made it a family event. Pam Leite, 50, was there her two brothers, Joe, 58 and Peter ,52, as well as her sister-in-law 50-year-old Cathy.

They had very full plates in front of them and all agreed that they love everything on those plates.

“We come here every year,” Cathy said in between bites.

Norman McMann, the four-year chairman of the event, explained that planning for next year’s event will begin pretty much right after this one ends.

As long as McMann is Chairman, his job will remain the same; “to get all the fixings and to make sure everyone is there to help.”

So much of what the Lions do is done behind the scenes and if McMann has his say, that’s the way they prefer it.

“We just want to keep doing what we can to help the community,” McMann said.

ksardinha@tauntongazette.com