Mullelett - Star and Times
Suppers a part of Valley life
up there's the Bowsman Fall supper on October16, followed by the
Birch River offering on Oct. 23. Rumor has it there may also be
one scheduled in Mafeking, but that could not be confirmed.
What is it about these community food fests,
these Fall suppers; and what's the attraction year after year?
consensus says it's a prairie tradition, both north and south of the border, and
that fact, apparently, is indisputable. What the folks who research these types
of things also know for certain is that, for over a century, Manitobans have been
celebrating the fall harvest with community suppers held in church basements and
Everything else you hear about the origins can depend on who
you talk to and where they live. What the suppers actually mean to the individuals
in personal, but there is often a common thread.
Makarchuk says, it
all began for them in Durban over 40 years ago. It was known as Offerfest, a form
of thanksgiving feast, which included Swedish side dishes. Over the years they've
changed both menu and name.
"We started moving towards more Ukrainian
style foods along with richer desserts, fried chicken and meatballs and gravy,"
And with the changes came a new name the Fall supper - which
seemed to be more a sign of the times.
Makarchuk says they still see
the event as a time to celebrate, give thanks and to fellowship. But it's also
a chance to raise funds for the church missionaries.
Jeffrey, a Swan River resident who farms near Bowsman, is a chronic
repeater on the circuit. After sitting down to four Fall suppers
annually for 40 years, he either holds the record (if there is a
record) or he's closing in fast.
was at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church affair, and he and his wife help out with
the Bowsman supper through the United Church. He syas they're into it in a big
way, serving 300 - 500 people. The idea started as a fowl supper, but changed
in the menu necessitated a change in the name.
"We used to call
it a fowl supper and we used to serve turkey," he says. "But there were
so many fowl suppers around we decided to make a change and go with beef. Now
we serve a roast beef dinner with gravy, perogies and salads with lots of far
Jeffrey says he likes the idea of celebrating the
fall harvest, and he also sees the dinner as a fundraiser for churches.
it's also a community thing," he says. "It's an opportunity
to get out, to see people"
Isabel Patience says Birch River also has their
own Fall supper, but they don't stop there. They follow it up with a spring smorg
where a hot item is - spring delight , a fancy name for puddings and cakes.
says their meal is the usual fare of turkey, cabbage rolls and perogies - foods
which seem to be the mainstays in the Valley - but they add a bit of spice to
the evening with a silent auction.
Diners buy tickets when they arrive,
and they names are drawn after dinner.
Patience says the prizes are
small, usually donations - things like glass ornaments.
It's a small
church so they get by with about 20 volunteers, but they also use actual dishes
instead of paper plates, so much of the tough work starts after people leave.
don a lot of visiting at the tables, but it's usually over by 6:30 p.m. so I am
lucky if I get home by 9 p.m.," Patience says, "I'm getting older now
and it's harder to do," she laughs.
the variables as you move from town to town seem to be the number
of diners, the menus, which can change from year to year or staythe
same for decades, and to a lesser degree the routines although those
differences are minimal. Probably one of the most unique changes
in style occurred this year in Eliphinston where they held a Fall
supper in the field at the Elkhorn Resort.
all is said, no matter where you go, things are more or less the same. Hungry
people stop in and eat supper over at least a two-hour span; some are early -
first to be seated, first to leave; others slip in under the bell and visit up
a storm until closing. Everybody pays, usually from $8 - $10, grabs a table and
heads for the buffet line. As they glide slowly down the row, they'll discuss
the choices with friends or partners and try hard to cram a little of everything
on their plate before they take a seat. Everything and everyone seems relaxed;
there's always a buzz of conversation, and even the most timid person won't be
able to stay quiet for long.
Fall supper can have a deeper meaning to those who take part, but
maybe it doesn't have to. Some, when asked what it's all about,
will just shrug and say they don't know. They might joke how it's
an early Thanksgiving or they're just here for the food, but that's
still a good answer. If you show up you'll always get a great meal;
there's plenty of it; the price is right, and nobody has to eat