ELBURN – St. Patrick’s Day celebrations usually involve wearing green clothes, eating corned beef and cabbage, drinking green beer and perhaps watching a parade with bagpipe music. But in Elburn, it’s all about the turkey.
St. Gall Catholic Church will host its 130th annual turkey dinner, complete with the trimmings, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at 120 W. Shannon St.
Why turkey? Legend has it that the church used to serve the traditional corned beef and cabbage at this community feast, but when a beef shortage occurred across the country during World War II, the church turned to a local turkey farmer to save the day. And the rest is history, said Carrie Walter, St. Gall’s communications director.
“People really like it and have resisted switching back to beef since so many other places serve that,” Walter said. “The turkey dinner makes us unique, and people seem to like the holiday meal in March.”
The turnout for the event is a success year after year, said Walter and her husband, Jeff, Elburn residents and chairpeople for the dinner for four years. The Walters said more than 200 volunteers working the event are expected to serve close to 1,000 turkey dinners, including 600 meals to-go.
To accommodate many people, organizers have ordered 1,500 pounds of turkey, 550 pounds of potatoes and four cases of stuffing mix. There also will be homemade gravy, corn, green beans, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, rolls and assorted homemade pies for dessert.
The Rev. Tim Seigel said he believes the feast is so successful because of the volunteers.
“They work hard, enjoy it and take great pride in what they’re doing,” he said.
And he intends to join in the fun. “My plan is to help peel potatoes in preparation for the big dinner, so I’ve been sharpening my peeler.”
Food preparation began Friday, and turkeys are being roasted in the homes of volunteers. The to-go meals are distributed at the Elburn American Legion Hall, a few doors down from the church. Across the street from St. Gall’s, volunteers will peel, cook and mash potatoes at the Elburn Congregational Church.
For the first time this year, St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, will be on hand to be photographed with children. And leprechauns will pass out candy.
The sit-down dinner costs $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and $4 for children ages 6 to 12. The meal is free for those 5 and younger. Carry-out dinners cost $8. For information, call Carrie Walter at 630-445-9789.