Parish dinner that almost wasn't
The story behind the annual parish dinner at Keuterville begins in the year 1978 when the Keuterville Christian Mothers decided to host the event for the first time. The officers of the Holy Cross Parish women’s group that year (Pres: Vivia Enneking, VP: Kaye Uptmor, Treas: Nora Gehring, and Sec: Anna Gehring) had little idea of what they would be getting themselves—and everyone else—into on that Sunday, February 19th. In fact, that initial parish dinner could well be dubbed “the parish dinner that almost wasn’t.”
Since the group had never put on such a production before, there was quite a bit of guesswork involved in figuring out what amounts of food should be prepared for the big day. As then-President Vivia Enneking recently stated in an interview, “This was a wonderful coming together of all members of the parish, working together to make this happen.”
Enneking continued by reporting: “We planned for 650 (people) and we served over 700, so the turnout was great. I worried about what I was going to do with all this food if no one showed up; needless to say, that worry was all unnecessary. Three hundred pounds of potatoes were donated by parish members, and 97 dozen homemade rolls were made and donated by Mrs. Ed (Teresa) Uptmor. Each family was asked to bring 3 homemade pies, and we received 167 of them.
“All the children of school age in the parish were asked to help: wait table, pour coffee, and scrape plates, as we didn’t use paper plates then. Many of the men of the parish helped wash plates and silverware throughout the day so we could keep the tables set.”
To fully grasp the magnitude of what happened the morning of the big day, it will help to remember that the kitchen addition of the Keuterville Hall was undertaken in 1987 and completed in time for the parish dinner of 1988. Until then, all the cooking in Keuterville was done in the basement of the hall.
As Enneking recalls, “The morning of the dinner we started to turn everything on to begin cooking, and we overloaded the electrical and blew the transformer on the pole. We were without electricity for about 2½ hours. It was a Sunday, of course, and we had to call Grangeville to get someone to come and fix it, and that took a little while. Several parish members went home and got their electric stoves, put them in the priest’s garage, and they cooked all the potatoes there. This was one time we were really glad we had wood cook stoves in the basement.
“Dinner was ready and served on time and only those that were there that morning knew of our little disaster. These are the types of things that build strong parishes and communities. We all learned a lot that first year and set the ground work for all the years to follow.”
As the parish dinner reaches the 34-year mark this Sunday at the Keuterville Hall, we are thankful that this mishap is now in the distant past. This year we look forward to welcoming a hungry crowd ready to taste all the homemade goodness that the parish dinner in Keuterville is so well known for.
Editor's note: The above story was submitted prior to the parish dinner but wasn’t printed then due to lack of space and the fact there were already two other articles about the dinner in the Chronicle. We’ve been asked to share it even though the event is already passed.