It's back! Cottam cooking up annual American Thanksgiving dinner

For 70 years the church hosted the community turkey dinner, but cancelled the even last year. The church said they had difficulty finding enough volunteers. That's not a problem now, the church is celebrating the 71st dinner on Nov. 23.

'It was terrible. I miss it a lot'

(Stacey Janzer/CBC)

After a year without an American Thanksgiving feast, members of the Cottam United Church are back in the kitchen busy prepping for the meal.

The church has hosted the community turkey dinner for 70 years, but cancelled last year because of a volunteer shortage. Finding helping hands is not a problem now, and the church plans to celebrate its 71st dinner on Nov. 23.

Rosemary Roadhouse is one of those volunteers. She was up early Wednesday morning turning 120 loaves of bread into stuffing.

"I always went to church, so I got involved," she said, adding she's been helping out since she moved to the area in the 1970s.

Missing the meal

Last year was a tough one from Roadhouse. 

"It was terrible. I missed it a lot, because I was a convener," she explained. "The day of the dinner was a let down."

Rosemary Roadhouse has been volunteering since moving to the area in the 1970s. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

The phone started ringing off the hook when news of the cancellation broke, as longtime dinners checked in to ask what had happened.

Roadhouse was disappointed the meal wasn't happening, but let the pastor know if there was any chance the dinner could be back on, "I'm on board."

Many people continued to check in with through the year, asking if the dinner was going to ever come back. She was confident it would return and is thrilled to be back helping out in the kitchen.

New team, same delicious food

Pastor Kim Gilliland is helping organize the event. He said there's been a lot of cooperation with other churches.

Previous organizers aren't able to help out anymore, so the church put together a new team, he said. 

After a year without an American Thanksgiving feast the Cottam United Church is back in the kitchen prepping for the meal. 0:30

The pastor added the new dinner takes "wisdom from the previous people, adding on some new things."

Dinner puts Cottam 'on the map'

The church borrowed some equipment to make cooking the meal a little easier and the planners are hoping to get more people participating in takeout orders. 

"The turkey supper is one of the things that puts Cottam on the map," Gilliland said.

The ovens at Cottam United Church are filled with pies, as volunteers prep for their turkey dinner. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

It's taken months of organizing, about 120 volunteers, 18 bushels of squash, 360 kilograms of potatoes, 540 kilograms of turkey, but the volunteers are prepared to feed up to 1,000 people.

"Part of why we do this is bring the community together. It's not just about raising money, it's about building community," said Gilliland.

Dinner will be from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Cottam United Church. It will cost $15 for adults, $7.50 for children from six to 12, and children under six eat free. All the takeout orders will cost $15.