By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
A much-beloved community feast won’t happen in Yukon for the first time since 1954.
The 65th Annual Ground Hog Dinner at Yukon’s First United Methodist Church, 400 Elm, was supposed to be Saturday, Jan. 30.
Instead, hungry diners will have to wait until Jan. 29, 2022 to get their fill of mouth-watering, “all-you-can-eat” Czech-style sauerkraut and ribs, new potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and sausage patties.
“This is our first year to have to miss it due to outside sources,” Ground Hog Dinner coordinator Russ Kline said.
Those outside sources are related to a certain novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Canceling the 2021 Ground Hog Dinner was no easy decision, since the event is a major fundraiser for FUMC missions and community service projects.
“I went to my crew leaders – including the prep crews and servers – who deal with the masses during the supper,” Kline said.
“Six of the seven crew chiefs had already talked to their people, and nobody was going to help.
“Our United Methodist Men’s group is thinking about having some other fundraising events instead.”
55 PEOPLE AT A TIME?
Some 1,400-1,500 people typically attend the church’s admired Ground Hog Dinner, presented by the United Methodist Men with help from about 150 volunteers.
The FUMC Christian Life Center, which has a large kitchen, hosts the event.
“The maximum capacity is 278 people by fire code,” Kline said. “COVID restrictions mean we’d only be able to have 20% of that amount inside at the same time, including diners and volunteers.”
Oklahoma United Methodist Conference and Yukon church leaders are continuing to follow state-mandated COVID-19 protocols.
“We ‘mask up’ and practice physical distancing at our church,” Kline said.
The Yukon Methodist church is not hosting large gatherings, weddings, funerals, or other outside groups.
Yukon’s epic community feed has always been served the Saturday before (or on) Ground Hog Day. That tradition was started by the previous longtime event coordinator, the late “Boss Hog” Bob Schwaninger.