Epic ‘Ground Hog’ feast returns Feb. 1

Diners from ‘all corners of the state’ invited to FUMC Yukon’s 64th annual dinner

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Event coordinator Russell Kline (second from left) directs members of his large volunteer crew during last year’s Ground Hog Dinner at Yukon’s First United Methodist Church. (Photo by Jack Hinton)

By Conrad Dudderar

Associate Editor

A feast of epic proportions is just around the corner.

Yukon’s 64th annual Ground Hog Dinner will attract people from across Oklahoma.

Diners’ mouths already are watering with word that this popular dinner will be staged Saturday, Feb. 1 at the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) Yukon, 400 Elm. The “all-you-can eat” family style meals will be served continuously from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“People come from all corners of the state to eat,” event coordinator Russell Kline said. “Last year, we had people from Ardmore, Lawton and even Woodward.

Volunteers prepare take-out meals for hungry customers during the annual Ground Hog Dinner at First United Methodist Church – Yukon, 400 Elm. There were about 115 take-out orders last year. (Photo by Jack Hinton)

“About 60 to 70 percent of diners are non-First United Methodist Church members, so the meal is a great way to introduce our church.”

The traditional menu features: Czech-style sauerkraut and ribs, new potatoes, biscuits and gravy, sausage patties, and apple butter; with tea and coffee to drink.

Children from the Yukon Kids First Pre-School sell desserts for $1.

The annual Ground Hog Dinner is a great way for FUMC Yukon members to get involved in church activities and make new church friends while showcasing FUMC Yukon’s hospitality, according to Kline.

“We served about 1,320 meals last year,” Kline said. “In the past, we’ve served more than 2,000.

“I have enough food ordered this time that I can feed 2,000 people.”

A BIG TASK

Sponsored by the FUMC Yukon United Methodist Men, this community feed is an all-church participation event.

“We have about 175 people, including church members and friends, who plan and present this dinner,” Kline said.

Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader and his wife, District 41 State Rep. Denise Crosswhite-Hader, enjoy the tasty Ground Hog Dinner meal. Enough food will be prepared to serve 2,000 dinners this year. (Photo by Jack Hinton)

Volunteers must prepare about 400 pounds of pork ribs, 720 pounds of pork sausage (5,760 patties), 108 gallons of sauerkraut, 96 gallons of whole white new potatoes, 60 gallons of milk sausage gravy, 480 cans of biscuits (4,800 total biscuits), 8 gallons of apple butter, 60 gallons of coffee, and 50 gallons of iced tea.

Kline started preparing for this monumental feast in November, by breaking out paperwork and touching base with his seven “crew chiefs.”

The real work starts beforehand with receiving and preparing the food, cutting up and browning the ribs, packing the coolers, mixing the sauerkraut, and setting up the Christian Life Center.

About 110 workers volunteer on the Saturday of the dinner. They make the gravy, cook the sausage and bake the biscuits. Then when diners arrive, servers fill the bowls and bring them to the tables, and then take empty bowls from the tables to the refill station.

“There are about 14 different crews involved in serving our guests,” Kline said.

A vital group of volunteers is the clean-up crew that works from 7-9:30 p.m. to restore all areas for Sunday morning activities.

Yukon’s Ground Hog Dinner started in 1956 as a fundraiser to expand the FUMC Yukon church facility.

“We have the oldest continuously functioning Ground Hog Dinner in the Oklahoma Methodist Conference,” Kline proudly proclaimed.

Not everyone sits in the FUMC Yukon Christian Life Center to enjoy the food.

“Last year, we ran through about 115 take-out orders,” Kline noted. “Two years ago, there were 153 take-outs.”

A GREAT CAUSE

FUMC Yukon’s annual Ground Hog Dinner raises funds for United Methodist Men’s mission projects.

With proceeds from this dinner and a spring golf tournament, the United Methodist Men budgets $9,000 annually to support its causes.

“Manna Pantry, Yukon Sharing, Compassionate Hands, and Yukon High School Project Graduation are the local non-profit groups that we support,” Kline said.

“We also give to the Methodist Men’s ramp project, Exodus House in Oklahoma City, Volunteers in Mission (VIM) mission trips, Ambassador Youth Baseball Association, and Society of St. Andrews United Methodist World Hunger Fund.”

Tickets are on sale for the 64th annual Ground Hog Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 1 at FUMC Yukon. Tickets for adults are $9 in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets for children under 12 years are $4.

Tickets are available in the church office or from FUMC Methodist Men’s executive committee members

For more information, visit fumcyukon.org or call 354-8858, or call Kline at (405) 740-3551.