Special to The Hays Daily News

PARADISE -- Every November since 1950 has found the women of the Paradise United Methodist Women deeply occupied with furnishing a sumptuous turkey dinner for the opening day of pheasant season in an area widely known by hunters for the abundance of birds.

Although the numbers seem to increase every year, most of the attendees have made this a necessary part of the season every year as long as they can remember.

The day isn't just for hunters, as many families take advantage of the homemade meal as a break from this fast-food world and look forward to the opportunity to visit with old friends and acquaintances.

The menu consists of turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans with bacon, choice of salads, homemade rolls and a selection of pies and desserts.

The meal isn't the only drawing factor. It's also a great start to Christmas gift shopping. Many members work year-round creating handmade items and preserved jellies, etc. Freshly baked cakes, pies, cookies, breads, candy, fresh gourmet nuts and snacks also fill the area. Recently, the organization compiled a cookbook featuring not only recipes from newer members but also includes locally famous recipes from past generations. An area-wide history, which entailed several years of research, is also available as well as professionally produced stationary, featuring beautiful photos of the surrounding areas and sunflower fields and the Paradise water tower, which is on the Historical Registry.

The event began in 1950 to raise money for the construction of a new Methodist church, which was long overdue. Members had already decided to build it themselves with donated lumber and supplies and their own hands, but money was still necessary for the project. After completion of the church, it just didn't seem right to drop an event that had become such a part of the community. Volunteers from the surrounding area who aren't even members pitch in each year to help out. Past members from across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, Florida and other locations come back every year to keep the tradition alive. As so many small community churches have vanished in recent years, this fundraiser plays a key role in the survival of this church.

This year, the date is Nov. 13. The bazaar opens at 10:30 a.m. and dinner is available at 10:45 a.m.

As in the past several years, the location has been changed from the Methodist Church Hall to the Paradise School Gymnasium on Main Street to allow for more seating and giving guests the opportunity to stay and visit.