A Brief History of the Wimberley Lions Club
By Patrick Cox, Ph.D.
Service, Leadership, and Commitment to Our Community
The Wimberley Lions Club has lived up to our motto “We Serve” for the past 50 years. Notably, the Wimberley Lions Club has now surpassed over $4 million in total donations to the community and Lions programs since the organization’s founding in 1969. Indeed, the Wimberley Lions have adhered to its commitments: We serve, We lead, and We support.
For 50 years, Wimberley Lions have stepped forward to provide financial support and volunteer commitments to the people, organizations and services that have been and continue to be the lifeblood of our community. Members have stepped forward to help families and businesses who suffered from natural disasters – both here and beyond the Wimberley area.
When we are inducted as members, we have joined the world’s largest and most active service organization; a group of women and men around the globe who are dedicated to making a meaningful difference in their communities and the world at large.
The San Marcos Lions Club organized and sponsored the Wimberley Lions Club in January 1969. The club began with 26 charter members. In the early years, meetings were held at the Dinner Bell Restaurant on the Wimberley Square. As the club membership grew over the years, other meeting locations included 7-A Ranch, Woodcreek Resort, the Wimberley VFW and finally the Wimberley Community Center.
Once the Wimberley Lions Club organized, the club assumed operation of Market Days from the Wimberley Chamber of Commerce. In 1972, the club purchased the first seven acres on FM 2325 and was named Lions Field. The initial purchase was financed through donations and bonds totaling $20,400. The Wimberley Lions conducted six Market Days annually for the early years in the 1970’s. Lions Field was dedicated July 8, 1972 and later renamed Lions Memorial Field in 1976 following the death of Wimberley Lions founding President Ja Wahrmund. Market Days at Lions Memorial Field now has 475 booths with ample facilities and parking on over 20 acres on FM 2325.
In the beginning, the Wimberley Lions Club dedicated their efforts to Lions organizations and the community. In the earliest years, the club provided contributions to Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, Lions vision services, community organizations, the Wimberley Volunteer Fire Department and area schools. Wimberley Lions Club hosted foreign exchange students from the very first year the club was organized. Those commitments expanded throughout the years as the club grew and Market Days expanded. These early commitments laid the foundation for the Wimberley Lions to expand its activities and contributions in the decades that followed. Following a decision by Lions International to allow women as members, the Wimberley Lions Club opened membership to women in 1988.
$4 Million in Total Contributions Since 1969
Throughout the years, the Wimberley Lions have provided ongoing support, both financial and volunteer hours in the community, for organizations and people in our community and beyond. This includes: education and schools, public safety, cultural initiatives, youth programs, parks and natural areas, and special support for those in need and in times of natural disasters. The Wimberley Lions provided critical support for local institutions that we all rely on: emergency services from Wimberley EMS and the Volunteer Fire Department, the Wimberley Civic Center, the Wimberley Library, Blue Hole Park, Jacob’s Well Natural Area, the new Lions Centennial Ozona Bank Park on Cypress Creek and many others. Members volunteer for highway cleanup, parades, schools, civic and charitable events. The club provides scholarships to students for colleges, universities and technical schools. Wimberley Lions host students from overseas and provide support to local students who travel to nations around the world. Leo organizations for youth are sponsored at Wimberley High School and Katherine Anne Porter School.
Since our founding in 1969, contributions have grown throughout the years. In 1992 the Wimberley Lions reached the $1 million total in contributions. The $2 million total came in 2003 followed by the $3 million total in 2009. Fortunately, the $4 million donation milestone occurred prior to the 50th Anniversary Celebration. The club continues to build on existing programs as it expands into new arenas. A comprehensive list of contributions is included in this program. The ripple effect of this commitment has touched the lives of many thousands of people.
From our humble beginnings as a small event held on the Wimberley Square, Market Days has grown to a popular institution that is known throughout the state. The Wimberley Chamber of Commerce launched Market Days on the Wimberley Square in 1964. Once the Wimberley Lions Club formed in 1969, an agreement between the two organizations allowed for the Lions to assume responsibilities for Market Day.
In 1972, the Wimberley Lions purchased seven acres west of Wimberley on FM 2325. Wimberley Lions and supporters provided more than $20,000 in bonds to finance the purchase of the property and to build the necessary improvements at the site. The Market Days of the early 1970’s had one concession stand, a barbecue kitchen, picnic tables, and spaces for about 100 vendors. Market Days was held for six Saturdays each year.
Since those early days, Market Days and Lions Memorial Field have seen considerable change. The Wimberley Lions Club now owns more than 20 acres where thousands of people visit the first Saturday of each month from March to December. Market Day is home to 475 vendors offering a dazzling array of items. Over two hundred volunteers from the Wimberley Lions Club and many other civic organizations provide their time and resources before, during and after each Market Day. All net income from Market Days goes to Wimberley Lions Club donations and grants that support many programs, improvements and activities.
Many new facilities have been built throughout the years to host visitors and community events. A large covered pavilion provides space for eating, entertainment, and food and beverage services offered by the Wimberley Lions. Visitors have easy access thanks to extensive parking on land adjacent to and across the highway from Market Days. Also, Market Days now has 11 concession stands with a wide variety of food and beverages and 3 entertainment venues where area musicians perform. Wimberley Lions provide transportation and hauling services for moving goods purchased from vendors to vehicles. Every Market Day has a special theme to make it festive.
From its inception in 1969, The Wimberley Lions have welcomed all and there is no admission fee to Market Days. The Wimberley Lions will continue to invest in and support Market Days as a mainstay for the organization and for the Wimberley community.