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It’s a special time of year in Vermont. 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 Vermont (and neighboring states) for the changing leaves. But increasingly they are also flocking to the Green Mountain State to participate in a unique community tradition – the Chicken Pie Supper.

The events, which raise funds for church and community projects, are held in September and October.

 Most supper sites are in villages easily accessible from major highways, along the country roads. Although these community events are rarely advertised, you can find them listed in the state’s Vermont Life magazine and in tourist publications, and even on food blogs such as Chowhound.

The basic menu at all the suppers follows tradition, the centerpiece a dish of chicken simmered, boned, sliced, sluiced with golden gravy and topped with fat crusty biscuits. Pans of chicken pie are brought to the table accompanied by pitchers of extra gravy, bowls of mashed potatoes, buttercup and/or butternut squash and coleslaw, all Vermont-grown and home-cooked.

Teenage servers pour coffee, tea or milk and distribute wedges of apple and pumpkin pie, perhaps accompanied by a “chunka cheese” cut from a wheel of Vermont cheddar.

Though there has been a recent surge in popularity to visitors, the dinners themselves are nothing new. In fact, the first recorded chicken pie supper was at Jericho Center, which celebrated the centennial of its event in 2002. Waterbury Center’s Community Church began holding suppers around 1858.

Before roast turkey became the centerpiece of Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, in fact, chicken pie—which is, essentially, large pieces of poached boneless chicken in a light gravy under a biscuit topping—was the main attraction on Vermont holiday tables.

Some think that the most famous chicken pie supper held every October is to be found in Groton, Vermont (part of the Northeast Kingdom).  Groton’s Chicken Pie Supper  is celebrating its 61st anniversary this year.

For those who cannot make it to Groton or Vermont, here is a recipe that can turn you home into a slice of Vermont.

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