REYNOLDS, N.D. - Hundreds of man (and woman) hours will culminate Sunday when Knights of Columbus members at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Reynolds host their annual fall dinner.
By the end of the day Sunday, Oct. 20, more than 1,000 people will have been served turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, coleslaw, buns and apple crisp at the church’s 35th annual dinner.
Work on the fall dinner is pretty much year-round, said Bo Lemer, who heads the Knights of Columbus in Reynolds.
“It never ends. There’s always something to do,” he said.
Proceeds from the dinner, typically totaling about $5,000, are used to maintain the KC and to fund charities.
Food preparation for the dinner begins months before the event, which is annually held the third Sunday in October. The Thanksgiving-like meal is made entirely from scratch and some of the ingredients used to make the side dishes are home-grown.
Parishioner Bill Weber, for example, raises the sweet corn, which is harvested, husked, cooked and frozen by volunteers in mid-August. By the time the volunteers are finished, there are 40 gallons of corn in the two freezers at the Knights of Columbus Hall across the street from the church.
“A lot of people talk about our sweet corn,” said Mary Leddige, church dinner coordinator. “We get a lot of compliments on that.”
Meanwhile, parishioners use apples from their trees to make the apple crisp. They pick, peel and slice the fruit before putting it in 2.5-gallon plastic bags that also are placed in the hall freezers until the Friday before the church dinner.
The corn and apples are just a small part of the tons of food that will be served family-style at the church dinner. During the day, the Knights of Columbus expect to go through about 800 pounds of turkey, 450 pounds of ham and 600 pounds of potatoes. Meanwhile, 240 one-pound loaves of bread, baked by parish members, then cut into cubes and dried, are made into stuffing.
The Knights of Columbus members, while the official hosts of the dinner, get help from women parish members preparing the dinner. The parish youth group helps serve it.
Each volunteer is assigned a job, which reduces the chaos.
“I’m usually on potato detail: cooking potatoes, mashing them,” said Neil Adam, a KC member.
An electric potato peeler has made the job, which used to be done entirely by hand, easier.
The dinner is popular and annually draws about 1,200 people. Some people plan their vacations around it, Leddige said, noting that a man who has family in Reynolds drives from Minneapolis each year to attend the dinner. He isn’t the only loyal customer.
“There is one couple who have come for years to the fall dinner, and they were going on a family vacation, and they came here to eat before they left,” Leddige said.
The dinner is a lot of work and it’s sometimes challenging finding volunteers. But it's still gratifying, Adam said.
“It’s good working with everyone. When everybody gets here, gets working together, it’s enjoyable,” he said.
Along with the church dinner, there will be a bazaar that will include jellies, jams, pickles and baked goods. The dinner and bazaar will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the KC Hall in Reynolds. The price of the dinner is $13 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and $2 for pre-school children.