It’s a special time of year. The leaves are changing, the evenings are getting longer and an autumn chill, with a hint of winter to come, is in the air.
Folks flock to the country for a pumpkin, cider, and donuts. But increasingly they are also flocking to places beyond the city crowds to participate in a unique community tradition – the Fall Community Supper. Also called harvest dinners or fowl suppers—it’s time for a home-cooked meal with plenty of pie for dessert.
Many supper sites are in villages easily accessible from major roads, along country roads. Although some of these community events are rarely advertised, you can often learn about a fall supper this season by watching for posters on post office doors and grocery store billboards.
Often they are held in church basements and community halls in cities, towns and even the smallest hamlets. They can be found in one form or another from coast to coast, but especially bedrock community tradition in the Prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
For example, the Winnipeg Free Press reports that last year, there more than 80 suppers held in rural communities across Manitoba (not including “the dozens held” in churches and community halls in cities including Winnipeg and Brandon).
That article describes menus tend to reflect the cultural make-up for the community hosting the dinner. Generally, The basic menu at many of the suppers follows tradition, the centerpiece a dish of chicken simmered, boned, sliced, sluiced with golden gravy and topped with fat crusty biscuits. But here are geographic and cultural variations. For example, in Manitoba’s francophone towns, you’ll see tourtière (meat pie) and sucre à la crème (a fudge-like candy). Once in a while, you’ll see one of these events advertised as a fowl supper, a clue as to how they got their start.
We came across a nice feature about how, next to the turkey and mashed potatoes and two kinds of gravy, one will find perogies and cabbage rolls in a Ukrainian community such as Ituna, Saskatchewan. There, at Sacred Heart Parish Ukrainian Catholic’s annual fall supper for only $15 per adult, or $6 per child, you will also find a huge selection of veggies, buns, and a selection of salads before even getting to specialties such Sweet and sour meatballs, and the above mentioned perogies and cabbage rolls.
Fall suppers are now underway and usually run until mid November (Ituna’s is the first Sunday in November) – the heaviest time seems to be the third week in October.
Advanced tickets are mandatory for many suppers (Organizers need to know how many people they will be feeding, so showing up on a whim is not advisable as an option. It is recommended that you make your plans in advance).
And, you’ll likely find not just some great food, but also a warmth and sense of community all too elusive in our modern and hurried world.