Lee Zion • Lafayette Nicollet Ledger
Jola Walker of Mapleton, Pat Jones of Mankato, Karen Gehrke of Hutchinson and Pastor Scott Richards of rural Gaylord are waited on by Marci Norrell, Beth Bjokland, Burt Norell, Bruce Norell and Dan Hermanson.
By Lee Zion
About 800 people turned out Saturday for a taste of Norway — lutefisk.
Scandian Grove Church, in Norseland, served up the traditional preserved fish, topped with butter or white sauce, and served with potatoes, gravy and cranberries. And, of course, lefse.
Oh, and there were also meatballs.
People came, some of them from 50 miles away, for the lutefisk. Since this part of Minnesota has such a strong Scandinavian heritage, just about everyone in the area knows about lutefisk, said Vicki Hermanson, treasurer with the church.
“They either grew up with it, or they married in it,” she said. “There’s people that go from lutefisk supper, to lutefisk supper, to lutefisk supper, all over the area.”
It’s a popular event, Hermanson added.
“They love the lutefisk. They enjoy having it buffet style. And it’s handicapped accessible, the church is, so that’s a benefit. And it’s good food,” she said.
Hermansaon said Scandian Grove Church has put on the lutefisk supper every year for more than 60 years, although she can’t give a more precise figure.
“We know that it was probably started in the 40s some time,” she said. “The women started it, then somewhere along the way, the whole church got involved in it.”
Some of Hermanson’s earliest memories involve helping out at the lutefisk supper, washing silverware.
The most enjoyable part of putting on the dinner is seeing how many people turn out — both to help out and to eat.
“The community — all the church community being able to get together to come and put it on for other people,” she said.
The hardest part of the event is being on the committee, Hermanson said, only half jokingly. She noted that in many households these days, both parents work full time, which doesn’t leave much time to volunteer for events like this.
Still, once the serving starts, it isn’t too difficult.
“We’ve done it for so many years, it’s like clockwork,” Hermanson said.
And so it did, as diners checked in and were seated in the chapel. As soon as seats were available, they were ushered into the dining area and got into the serving line.
Money raised at the dinner goes toward church operations. Also, since Gustavus Habitat for Humanity students help out at the event, their organization gets a portion of the money, Hermanson said.
Hermanson added that this is one of only two fundraisers the church does every year. The other is a Memorial Day dinner to benefit the cemetery