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125th New England dinner set for Sunday

In 1961, Lois Hall and Mayme Soule prepared food as part of the kitchen committee.1 / 2
In 1965, ladies filled the kitchen preparing the meal.2 / 2

The Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ will host its 125th New England dinner this Sunday, Oct. 16.

The annual dinner started in 1886 and has been a popular multi-generational event at the church, according to church member Marcia Graf.

The church dinner has been a tradition for the Graf family for five generations and she says there are many other families who have four or five generations that have participated in the event.

"Almost everyone on the dinner planning committee had at least a grandma who worked on the New England dinner," said 70-year-old Graf.

Although the dinner has evolved over the years, due to menu changes and a new church building, Graf says some things have stayed the same.

"We still have the pies and the biggest draw is the baked chicken," she said.

Graf says between 300 and 400 people attended the dinner last year to socialize and support the church.

"The dinner is the main fundraiser for the church, but it's also to keep people tied together through fellowship and community," she said.

It takes about 50 volunteers to help the dinner run smoothly.

Graf said she has many fond memories from volunteering at the dinner over the years, but some of her favorite memories involve playing children's games, like the "fish pond," as a young girl.

"Everybody has their (New England dinner) story," she said with a laugh.

Graf hopes the New England dinner continues to be a popular church tradition and is welcomed by new members and future generations.

"God has blessed us all, we need to remember that and share that. This dinner is one way we can do that," Graf said.


Everyone is welcome to attend the dinner and bazaar on Sunday, Oct. 16, from noon to 4 p.m.

The first meal in 1886 consisted of baked beans, brown bread and pie. The 125th dinner menu consists of oven-baked chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, rutabagas, cranberry salad, rolls and pie. According to church records, the profit from the dinner in 1923 was $243.91. Profits in 2010 were $6,570.85.

Cost for the meal: Adults, $10; children 6-10 years old, $4; and age 5 and younger eat free.

The bazaar will feature home-baked goods, candies, jams, jellies, pumpkins and crafts.

Roberts UCC is located at 1001 Birch Drive, Roberts. The church telephone number is 715-749-3225.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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