ShareThis Page

Home-grown food draws crowd to St. Alphonsus festival

| Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, 5:57 p.m.

The annual Harvest Home Dinner at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Pine Township, which is from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, began more than 120 years ago, when local farmers donated their crops so a meal could be prepared to raise money for the parish.

At some point, a small festival was added, but the home-grown food is what keeps people coming back every year, said Patricia Remy, a member of the festival committee.

“Obviously, it's not just our parishioners, but people in the community also come out because they like the dinner,” said Remy, of Pine Township. “It's a nice community event and a bonding experience for our parish.”

About 2,000 dinners are sold every year, and this year, everyone will be seated in the school gymnasium. Classrooms in the parish school always were used for seating in the past, but now, everyone will be in the air-conditioned gym, Remy said.

“By having everyone on the gymnasium floor, they will all be able to see each other,” Remy said.

About 300 volunteers help with the event, Remy said.

Diners have the choice of sliced ham or grilled chicken The side dishes are prepared from locally grown produce. A cucumber salad and a tomato salad always are popular with diners, but everyone raves about the homemade applesauce, Remy said.

About 25 volunteers spend one evening cutting apples and cooking the sauce from a recipe that has been modified and perfected for 100 years, said Bob Paolini, a parishioner who has helped make the applesauce for more than 15 years.

“We've ironed out all the wrinkles over the years and pretty much have it down pat,” said Paolini, 77, of Pine. “I've never had a year when the applesauce hasn't been good.”

Almost 100 pounds of applesauce is prepared in just three or four hours. Most of the volunteers work to cut the apples, which then are cooked and pressed through a machine that filters out the skins, Paolini said.

“We've got some people who know the cooking process really well,” Paolini said, “so they help to make the applesauce just right.”

The desserts are prepared and donated by parishioners and include fruit pies, Remy said.

Attendees also can play games of chance; enter the Chinese auction, which features gift baskets; or visit the country store. A Fun Land for children will have inflatables, such as a giant slide, Remy said.

Most of the money raised goes toward the expenses of St. Alphonsus School, which many parishioners attended when they were children, Remy said.

“It's been our home parish all of our lives, so we're excited to be involved with the dinner,” Remy said. “We want to make sure our church and school succeed.”

Melanie Donahoo is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.