Forks tradition carries on through Harvest Dinner

By Zorina Barker, Forum Correspondent


On Friday afternoon, Oct.18, the air of the Fellowship Hall in the Congregational Church was heavy with the smell of the Harvest Dinner.


Barb Kelso recalls, “Linc Mueller made homemade 8-grain bread that was mighty popular for years,” as she filled bread baskets with rolls she special ordered from Thriftway.


The tables behind her were carefully set for a crowd that began to arrive at 4:30 p.m. to feast on a turkey dinner.


The kitchen in front of her was filled with the laughter of people teasing each other and enjoying themselves as they work together.


“(Pastor) Warren (Johnson) better come back soon because he has got the whipped cream for the pies,” Lucille Duncan laughed.


She was taking a rest by a table that wanted to collapse under the weight of homemade pumpkin and apple pies.


Another table, holding the slices of pie awaiting the whipped cream, was filled to overflowing as well.


Late afternoon seems a bit early for dinner to many people, yet the time is specifically set to draw older ones out of their homes to socialize without the fear of driving at night.


Said Johnson, “It is a time for our older ones to see friends that is not a funeral. It really isn’t just about the food; it is about getting people into a comfy setting where they can catch up with each other’s lives. This is what inspires me.”


Johnson has been heading the preparations for the annual Harvest Dinner at the Forks Congregational Church for 15 years and he hasn’t let the pies lack whipped topping yet.


“I began helping in the kitchen when I was in my mid-40s. As people got older, I took over. It has been a community thing since 1934. I’d hate to see a thing like this die,” he said.


He went on to list members of the community that have been a part of the annual event, many of them advanced in age or deceased.


A younger community often sees events from a perspective that is quite different from the older set.


Nearly everyone involved in the preparations of the Harvest Dinner had grey hair and memories of past dinners.


“Marge (Wahlgren) and Lucille have been doing this since I can remember,” smiled Brenda Connely as she cut pies. “My parents were part of this church. I love to see everyone coming together each year.”


“If faith does not have works, it is dead,” reads James 2:17. It is faith in God and man, Johnson said, that pulls people out of the woodwork to volunteer here.


When Johnson went to purchase the turkeys, he was met by an anonymous member of the church that wanted to buy them to support the church in its endeavor.


The money brought in from the 79th Annual Harvest Dinner will go to maintain the buildings that are the backdrop for many fond memories.


“We are a tight church family and this is how we support our building,” Kelso said. “My parents were married in this church, when it was on Division. We have come close to losing this place, but we all pitch in. I appreciate the camaraderie of everybody involved.”


The children that served pie last weekend may be some of the ones who remain in Forks to continue the tradition of feeding the community; helping Forks remember its roots through the lively conversation of older ones.


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