Thursday, November 26

Thanksgiving at the Vattman Picnic

For 95 years, this little Texas church has been serving Thanksgiving dinner to whoever wants to come. Ninety-five years. The church (Our Lady of Consolation) is 100+ years old, so I guess they began the Thanksgiving tradition when the church was about 5 years old.

This is in South Texas, about 15 miles south of Kingsville (or 45 miles south of Corpus Christi). The extremely small community known as "Vattmanville", nearby Rivera. The Thanksgiving dinner is their annual fundraiser. They have a huge party - which includes serving all-you-can-eat turkey dinners to about 1500 people. The public is invited, and they come in hordes, well at least in large groups. They serve about 1500 dinners.

You have to wait in line to get in, but nobody minds this - while you're in line, there are still plenty of things to occupy you ... someone stays in line of course, but the women like to shop in an ancient parsonage house that is full of Christmas Arts & crafts & baked goods for sale, there is a beer tent for the men (so they're happy to be the ones waiting in the line), skeet shooting practice at the edge of the field, moon walks and other games and fun things for the kids.

The entire congregation participates. The ladies cook the food, the men organize the parking and selling the tickets and managing the seating (as people leave, they just find a spot with enough seats for your party and everyone is seated at long long tables in a huge fellowship hall) The teenagers serve the food, and they continually walk through the tables bringing second helpings or drink refills etc. Later, when you're full of turkey, they start bringing you the dessert trays and coffee. It's impossible to leave the place hungry. It's well worth the cost, which this year is about $11 I think - and well worth it!

While the serving is going on, there are several other activities - there's bingo ongoing through the day, there are raffle items and a silent auction. It's such a well-organized operation, you hardly notice how much is happening. It's really the most fun way to have Thanksgiving Dinner. It's perfect that they call it the Thanksgiving Picnic, because that's exactly the attitude! We aren't even Catholics, nor are most of the people who show up every year. Everyone is welcome.

So we ate and ate, and laughed and then I think we ate some more. Now we're relaxing, but there are no dishes to be washed etc. Best wishes to all for a Happy Thanksgiving.

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