Turkey and all the trimmings were served to about 440 people during the Cortez Christmas dinner on Monday.
Like a giant extended family, residents have come together for 27 years to share a meal at the county annex building on Christmas Day.
Adding a touch of class, volunteer waiters provide tableside service, and diners enjoy their meals to the live country and classic rock tunes performed by Donny Johnson.
“The best part is the food and the mingling of friends,” said Dearle Ricker, who attended for the first time and also volunteered. “The live music is a nice touch.”
Organizer Mitchell Toms said they had more volunteers this year, with about 50 people signing up to set up, cook, serve or clean up. Drivers delivered about 40 meals to homebound residents, Toms said.
“This community should be very proud. We always have a such a outflow of support,” Toms said. “We’ve had a lot of practice putting this on, and it just goes like clockwork.”
Donations, including from local banks, chip in the $2,500 it costs to put on the event every year.
This year, Sharon King took over as lead cook and brought her daughters along to help out as well. Volunteers showed up at 8 a.m. to start deboning 30 cooked turkeys, under the supervision of Brandon Schubert, a local chef.
“To have a community dinner on the actual day of Christmas is pretty special, and the fact that there are so many volunteers willing to come in on a holiday says a lot about our community,” King said.
Volunteer Greg Kemp said deliveries were down this year, “probably because the weather is so nice compared to last year.”
Last year, a Christmas Day snowstorm filled the streets with snow, and drivers delivered more than 100 meals. This year, about 40 meals were delivered, and the temperature was in the 50s, the sky was clear, and there was no snow.
Groups of friends have been meeting at the dinner for decades, said local Cassin McClure. “We take over a big section and catch up.”
“It’s my favorite event of the year,” added her friend Edy Clarkson, who has attended the past 18 years. “You get to see everyone you know, like a big family reunion.”
Lori Donaldson enjoyed a meal with her friend Wynn Nichols, who said it was “good that people get involved and put on events like these.”