ELLIS — While hunter orange and camouflage could be found among the crowd at Christ Lutheran Church, many who gathered in the basement were community members looking for a good meal and some fellowship.
The church has been serving up the annual hunters meal “forever” on the opening day of pheasant season, some of the volunteers said.
The event was started by the church’s youth group but its Women of Life group has been organizing the meal for about 10 years, the volunteers estimated.
Making sure everything ran smoothly in the kitchen was Twila Large.
“I guess head cook, is that what you could call me?” she asked the kitchen volunteers.
“Queen,” suggested Morty Hollern, getting a laugh from everyone.
Morty and his wife, Tammy, have volunteered in the kitchen for years.
“When the youth group had it our three daughters helped, so now we’re doing it,” Tammy said.
“Just don’t ask us which is the better cook,” she said with a laugh as the couple made a batch of grilled cheese sandwiches.
Along with the grilled cheese, the menu included green bean and dumpling, chicken noodle and taco soups, and pulled pork sandwiches.
And, of course, the pies, about 40 of them this year, all made and donated by church members.
The number of pies donated amazed a relief pastor several years ago, Large said.
“He called it the miracle of the pies, because they always just show up,” she said. “We say that each year and think of him.”
Trenton Schartz didn’t bother saving his peanut butter cup pie for dessert, having more of it finished than his bowl of green bean dumpling soup. Trenton was at the meal with his family — brother Carson and mom and dad Jenny and Jake Schartz.
Jake and Carson had been hunting earlier in the day.
“We went out for deer, but didn’t get one,” Jake said.
The family, members of the church, come to the lunch every year, Jenny said.
The fellowship over food didn’t end with Saturday’s meal for church members. Turkeys were in the oven for Sunday’s Thanksgiving meal for the congregation.
“The stuffing is already made. We peel the potatoes after this and do mashed potatoes and the congregation brings the side dishes. If there’s leftover pie, which there probably will be this year, we won’t have to bring desserts,” Large said.
The women’s group was also selling raffle tickets Saturday for several quilts and two stained glass decorations. The proceeds help fund the group’s projects, which include Operation Christmas Child and making quilts they donate to several organizations, including Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, the Mary Elizabeth Maternity Home, Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center and homeless shelters in Denver.