MINNEOTA - People around southwest Minnesota celebrated Thanksgiving with fellowship and a hot meal on Thursday, and the crowd gathered at Bethel Fellowship Church in Minneota was no different.
Folks lined up to try a banquet's worth of home-cooked food, while church members took turns serving, clearing tables and slicing up pieces of pumpkin pie.
"We wanted to be able to serve the community," said Minneota resident Manjit Harrison.
Photo by Deb Gau
Servers, including Vonnie Tillemans, Cora Engels, Ellie Harrison and Marcia Johnson, made sure everyone had their fill of turkey, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole at a community Thanksgiving dinner meal held at Bethel Fellowship Church in Minneota.
Church members worked together to make sure they had good food and a festive atmosphere to offer, she said. "We wanted to have it set up to make you feel like you were in our home."
Minneota was one of several towns in the region where community Thanksgiving meals were held. Harrison said Thursday marked the second year the congregation at Bethel Fellowship organized a Thanksgiving feast.
Church members estimated about 70 to 100 people attended this year's event.
"It's just starting," said church member Elana Nomeland. "We hope to do this every year if we can."
There was a little something for everyone on the menu. Isaac Harrison said he liked the fresh rolls. Turkey was a popular entree, but Melanie Engels said she liked the ham best.
"She was excited about that," said Debbie Engels, with a smile. Engels was one of several members of the congregation who divided up the cooking duties to prepare for Thanksgiving.
"The planning began about a week ago," Sheri Sternke said.
Some of the people celebrating at the church had traveled to be there. Ami Tillemans said she grew up in Minneota, although she lives in Minneapolis now. It made helping with Thursday's dinner special.
"It's fun to serve alongside people you grew up with," she said. "It feels like a community within our community."
Minneota resident Lucille Vlaminck said it was good to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving together with friends if family members were far away. Bethel Fellowship member Eric Espinosa agreed.
"The church is like my family, really," said Espinosa said.