Turkey dinner family tradition

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

Portales residents know it’s the first Thursday of November when they smell the aroma of turkey wafting from the First United Methodist Church on U.S. 70 and Avenue C.

In its 60th year, organizers and church members say the Turkey Dinner and Bazaar represents tradition, community and extended family. The annual event that’s split into lunch and dinner took place Thursday. It raises funds for missions locally, nationally and internationally, according to organizers.

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Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune
1: Josh Kuchta, left, finishes his pumpkin pie while sharing a laugh with his son Daxton Kuchta, center, and Tammy Hunton Thursday at First United Methodist Church’s Turkey Dinner and Bazaar.
2: Devany Stone, front, and Carol Stedman whip up the last pots of gravy for the lunch meal Thursday at the Turkey Dinner and Bazaar.

It’s a multi-generational event for 32-year-old Dawn Kuchta of Portales who remembers the dinner being the “it” event of the year as a child when she attended with her parents.

“This was our annual event to come and eat, so now we volunteer to help out,” Kuchta said. “I love the turkey and just seeing everybody.”

She said sharing this experience with her 2-year-old son and husband is about carrying on the tradition.

“It’s a family atmosphere and it’s good to do,” she said,

Coordinator Shelly Atwood became emotional when she recalled her beginnings with the dinner. Atwood said her grandmother used to bake the pumpkin pies and always used to save a piece for her.

She added when she was a child, church members would grow the green beans and sweet potatoes for the meal and can them for the dinner.

Atwood’s son and daughter-in-law are now volunteers and she thinks her grandson isn’t far behind.

“The turkey dinner is a social event for a lot of people. It brings our church closer,” Atwood said. “It’s just been a tradition we’d like to carry on.”

Fred Patterson of Floyd has served in many roles for the dinner in years past, his favorite being a turkey carver.

“A lot of people get together and do the work and have fun while they’re doing it,” Patterson said. “It’s a satisfying project.”

Celebrating 60 years, here’s a look at the numbers of the turkey dinner:

• 902 lunches served. The number surpasses last year’s total of 835. The total number of meals, including lunch and dinner, served last year was 1,966.

• $12,000 dollars raised for missions last year. Local missions include buying school supplies for needy youth.

• 27 gallon pots of gravy made for lunch.

• 9 silent auction entries from community members. The entries include homemade peanut brittle, jewelry and knitted goods.

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