By RYAN CHRISTNER
Mormon Tabernacle Choir member Beth Breinholt called it "divine intervention."
One of about 570 singers, orchestral performers and support staff who paid a brief visit to Hays recently while traveling between venues, Breinholt equated the task of finding a space large enough to feed the massive group to an act of God.
"As you can imagine, you can't feed 570 people easily at a McDonalds," said John Moore, bishop of the Hays Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who gathered about 30 volunteers to assist with the meal.
After arriving in town June 28, the group's 11 buses made their way to the Fort Hays State University Memorial Union, where Chartwells food service staff and church volunteers supplied them with dinner.
Publicity about the event was kept to a minimum. After all, it's not every day that one of the most well-known choirs in the world makes a stopover in northwest Kansas.
At the time, the choir was on the last leg of its 2009 tour of the central states -- which concluded one week ago after performances in seven cities in six states during an 11-day period -- from Norman, Okla., to Denver.
Given the distance they needed to travel, eventually they would need to stop and eat.
"Basically, they knew there was a lot of real estate between (those cities)," Moore said.
Fortunately, all the pieces fell neatly into place.
Kim Barnes, catering manager for Chartwells, said church member and FHSU political science professor Arthur Morin bridged the gap between the choir and the university.
About two months ago, Barnes said, she was told by Morin about the choir's trip and their need of a suitable dining facility.
Catering for that large a crowd always is a challenge, Barnes said, but the overall experience was exceptional.
"They're really fantastic people," she said. "I wouldn't ask for nicer people to work an event like that for."
It also was incredibly important to members of the Hays LDS ward.
"For the people of the local Mormon church, it meant a lot to them," Moore said. "I think most of us were thinking, 'Heck, I'd have paid to do that.' "
A release sent by FHSU before the event originally said the group would not have time to perform for their hosts.
However, as the choir raised their voices for a pair of songs, it was their appreciative audience who likely felt a miracle had been bestowed upon them.
"Being there was really just an amazing experience," Moore said.