Saturday, May 9, 2015

Executive Director's Message: Pro Bono and Pork - A Proud HCBA Tradition Continues

By John F. Kynes

They came ready to run. They ate great food. They enjoyed good company. And they left feeling full and gratified that they had helped support the Bar and pro bono work in the community.

That sums up the festivities on a beautiful Saturday afternoon on March 21 when more than 500 people participated in the HCBA’s 12th Annual Judicial Pig Roast/Food Festival and 5K Pro Bono River Run held on the grounds of Stetson Law’s Tampa campus.

“The Pig Roast and 5K are unique and fun HCBA events, and I am pleased that we had a huge turnout this year,” said HCBA President Ben Hill IV. “I believe the family-friendly atmosphere helps build greater camaraderie among HCBA members, and the tremendous support of the 5K certainly speaks volumes about the Bar’s commitment to pro bono service.”

There were more than 20 food and beverage booths at this year’s Pig Roast/Food Festival, which featured a wide variety of culinary delights and handcrafted concoctions.

The judges of the Thirteenth Circuit were “all in” again this year, and they took home the prize for Best Pig Sty, or most creative booth. Inspired by the 75th anniversary of the premiere of “The Wizard of Oz,” the judges decorated their food tent with Oz-themed paraphernalia. A sign hanging from their tent read “The Judges of Oz.” 

Some judges also came dressed as characters from the movie. Wearing ruby slippers, Judge Samantha Ward came as Dorothy; Judge Caroline Tesche was quite a sight dressed in all silver as the Tin Man; Judge Lisa Campbell was the Scarecrow; and Judge Kimberly Fernandez was decked out as the Cowardly Lion.   

Judge Jack Espinosa Jr. arrived just after 7 a.m. on Saturday morning and spent the next eight hours with a small group tending to 20 Boston pork butts cooking in a massive black 11-foot smoker parked behind Stetson under an oak tree. A Pig Roast veteran, Espinosa said the key to preparing the judges’ pulled pork entree was the special marinade applied to the meat the night before and cooking the pork at the proper temperature.

“Low and slow is best,” Espinosa said as smoke billowed from the smoker nearby.

GrayRobinson, P.A., took runner-up honors for Best Pig Sty for its strawberry-themed food booth, which was adorned with red balloons made to look like strawberries. Grace Yang, a GrayRobinson partner and HCBA board member, helped serve attendees strawberry shortcake and strawberry daiquiris made with fresh Plant City strawberries.

The award for Best Pig Slop, or best food, went to the law firm of Trenam Kemker. Eric Koenig, the firm’s own “Top Chef,” explained that Trenam’s culinary theme this year was called “Feed Your Inner Child.”

Koenig said he took familiar childhood food favorites ― chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, and Rice Krispie s’mores ― and “elevated” them to a gourmet level using extra fresh ingredients and homemade bourbon barbeque sauce for the chicken fingers. He said he spent weeks creating handcrafted American wheat and Nutella beers that attendees were able to enjoy.

Wilkes & McHugh and the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit shared runner-up honors for Best Pig Slop.

The HCBA’s inaugural 5K run took place in 2009, and before this year’s Pig Roast, runners hit the streets for what is now called the 5K Pro Bono River Run.

“This year’s race was a great success with almost 300 runners and over 2,500 hours pledged in support of indigent citizens in our community,” said Judge John Conrad, who chaired the 5K event along with Judge Christopher Nash. “The 5K Committee deserves special thanks for their outstanding effort in making this race such a wonderful event.” 

The overall 5K male winner was Alejandro Navas, and the overall female winner was Yova Borovska. The fastest male judge was Judge Gregory Holder, and the fastest female judge was Judge Linda Allen.

Of special note, Judge Conrad’s 85-year-old father, Joe, ran a remarkable time for his age, and Judge Nash’s 7-year-old son, Charlie, ran for the second year in a row.

Dick Woltmann, executive director of Bay Area Legal Services, said the 5K run not only raises pledges of pro bono hours, it also generates pro bono participation in various projects in the Thirteenth Circuit, such as Crossroads for Florida Kids and Are You Safe. Woltmann said this year’s pledges of more than 2,500 pro bono hours represent a 50 percent increase in hours pledged from last year.

No doubt both the Pig Roast and 5K run have experienced many changes over time, but the competitive spirit and camaraderie that exist among HCBA members remain the same. Many thanks to all the financial sponsors and tireless volunteers who, over the years, have helped make both these events a success.

See you around the Chet.