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Long lines of people looped back and forth throughout the auditorium, extending through the doors outside and down the sidewalk.
It was St. Boniface Church’s biggest event of the year—the 94th Annual Thanksgiving Bazaar.
Four serving lines offered a buffet-style meal of traditional Thanksgiving fare and more. The meal included turkey and dressing, original special recipe sausage, mashed potatoes and gravy, sauerkraut and ribs, cranberries, gelatin salad, corn, dinner roll and homemade pies and desserts.
The amount of food cooked and served for this year’s bazaar was astounding: 53 turkeys; 59 gallons of home-grown corn; 30 gallons of sauerkraut; 130 pounds of rib meat; 12 gallons of cranberries; four double-batches of Jell-O salad; 500 pounds of potatoes and enough gravy to accompany them; 14 batches of dressing; 588 pounds of ring sausage; 1,500 dinner buns and 1,500 pieces of dessert.
There were six varieties of pies—apple, cherry, peach, sour cream raisin, pecan and pumpkin—and numerous soft desserts.
“We need all our parish members to pull this type of an event off,” Sandy Kallhoff said.
The bazaar committee typically consists of the parish council, altar society president and vice president and a food committee.
“We have a committee meeting in late July and make final plans,” Kallhoff said. “We actually start to place orders for inventory in August, like placemats, and any supplies we need to replace, like roasters, coffee pots and silverware.”
She said the group places a grocery order with Dean’s Market on November 1 for their food supplies.
“We make the Jell-O salad and prepare the bread for the dressing on Wednesday morning,” Kallhoff said. “A shift starts Thursday morning at 5 a.m. to cook the ring sausage. Then we start preparing the food, so it is all prepared by 10:30 a.m.”
Workers are assigned to different areas and given shifts. Serving begins by 11 a.m.
“I have already seen three generations working side-by-side in the kitchen area,” she said. “We serve a buffet-style meal and we involve our students, who pour water and coffee and clear the tables.”
Spanning six generations of parishioners, the annual event has been serving the Elgin community and beyond since 1925.
“They decided to do a fundraiser for the church members,” Kallhoff said of the inaugural event. “The farmers butchered the first hogs on a farm southeast of Elgin. The farm was owned by Frederick Kerkman. I was told it turned out so well that the town wanted to attend so they opened it to the public.”
A few changes have been made through the years, including the number of meals served on Thanksgiving Day.
“Prior to 2012, we served a noon meal as well as a supper meal,” she said. “Due to a lack of workers and an aging parish, we only serve a noon meal now.”
The parish set a record in 1997 with two meals, serving 1,956 people. Since switching to just one meal, the largest number of people served was 1,555.
Between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., volunteers served Thanksgiving meals to a whopping 1,325 guests this year.
That is a lot to be thankful for.