Feasting and fellowship are primary ingredients of community Thanksgiving dinners planned for Thursday, when hosts present dinners in Oneonta, Walton and Oxford.
About 65 turkeys — or more depending on the size of the bird — will be prepared this week for the holiday dinners, organizers from the three sites said Sunday, and the meals will feature traditional trimmings and desserts. Takeout dinners will be available for pickup or delivery to some areas, they said.
Thanksgiving is a federal holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, according to a USA.gov, and this event generally is regarded as the nation’s first Thanksgiving.
Local dinners are free and open to everyone, whether in economic need or seeking fellowship, organizers said. Reservations aren’t needed to attend dinners but may be necessary for deliveries.
Organizers of the three dinners in the three-county area said they still seek volunteers to help with a range of duties, from food preparation and serving meals, to deliveries and cleanup.
In Oneonta, the annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner will be at the Elks Lodge from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Judy McMullen, co-chairwoman from New Lisbon, said last year about 200 meals were served during the Oneonta dinner and 200 meals were delivered. Organizers expect demand to be about the same this year. The dinner is all-volunteer event, she said.
“You see people from all walks of life coming in to share a Thanksgiving meal,” McMullen said. “It’s just a heart-warming thing happening in our community. … It’s great to see the smiles.”
McMullen said as of Sunday, 750 pounds of turkey has been donated. At about 20 pounds per bird, the donations would equal about 38 turkeys.
The Walton Community Free Thanksgiving Dinner will mark its 15th year Thursday, Mary Carroll, co-chairwoman said Sunday.
Organizers rely on many volunteers and contributors of food, she said, and last year about 225 guests were served and about 105 dinners were delivered. Carroll said this year, about 15 20-pound turkeys will be prepared.
“We hope that’s enough,” Carroll, of Walton, said. Volunteers will be busy preparing for the event at the First Congregational Church at North and Mead streets between 12:30 and 3 p.m. Thursday, she said.
The Church Women United of Oxford and St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church have sponsored a Thanksgiving dinner since 1984, and the gathering has become an anticipated community event, organizers said.
“We expect a large crowd,” said organizer Audrey Johnson of Oxford. Area residents and visitors, sometimes including hunters, may stop in at St. Joseph Church in Oxford for dinner between noon and 1 p.m. Johnson said.
“People look forward to this event, to being together,” she said. Johnson said 14 turkeys, weighing 12 to 15 pounds, are being prepared to provide 100 to 125 eat-in or delivered meals.