By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon’s famous Ground Hog Day Dinner has been postponed – but it’s still going to happen in 2022.
The 65th annual community feast was supposed to be Saturday, Jan. 29 at the Yukon First United Methodist Church, Fourth and Elm. That’s the Saturday before Ground Hog Day.
But an increase in the COVID-19 infection rate and related concerns about large gatherings have prompted organizers to move the dinner to the spring.
“It’s postponed but not canceled,” Ground Hog Day Dinner coordinator Russell Kline emphasized. “We tentatively plan to have the dinner in March, most likely after spring break.”
Sponsored by the FUMC Methodist Men’s Group, this Ground Hog Day Dinner has been a Yukon tradition since the mid-1950s. But the event was canceled in January 2021 due to the virus.
“Our guys were disappointed and have really been looking forward to it this year,” Kline said. “Even though it won’t be on January 29 as we hoped, we are committed to having our dinner after spring break in March.
“We’ve already ordered the food!”
Some 125 volunteers – led by 16 crew chiefs – plan, prepare and serve meals continuously throughout the day.
Hungry diners gather inside the church’s Christian Life Center to enjoy “all-you-can eat” Czech style sauerkraut and ribs, new potatoes, sausage patties, sausage gravy, biscuits, and apple butter.
“As long as I’m coordinator, we’re sticking to the same menu,” Kline promised.
The hot food is served family style and “to-go” orders are offered.
1,410 IN 2020
Some 1,410 meals were served during Yukon’s last Ground Hog Day Dinner on Feb. 1, 2020.
Kline wonders if moving the dinner to the spring – instead of mid-winter – will become the norm. That will depend on how the public responds.
Mouths already have started watering across Yukon with the thought of the Ground Hog Day Dinner. Diners will just have to wait a little longer than expected.
“Yukon citizens really look forward to this,” Kline said. “People already have been calling in wondering why nobody’s asked them to buy tickets yet.”
The Ground Hog Day Dinner at Yukon FUMC does more than satisfy appetites.
The event raises funds to support church missions and community service projects.
Yukon’s Ground Hog Dinner started in 1956 as a fundraiser to expand the FUMC Yukon church facility.
Tickets for adults are $9 each in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets for children 12 years and under are $4 each.
For more information or to order tickets, call (405) 354-8858.