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The 24th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner served a free meal to 615 people from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Concordia Lutheran Church in Jamestown. (Charly Haley / The Sun)
The 24th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner served a free meal to 615 people from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Concordia Lutheran Church in Jamestown. (Charly Haley / The Sun)

Thanksgiving dinner serves 615 people

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news Jamestown, 58401

Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

Judy Buegel never really liked cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

“I’m not really a Susie Homemaker,” she said.

It was her husband who always organized the annual meal — and he organized it for hundreds of people in Jamestown to share.

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Buegel’s late husband, Fritz Buegel, started the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, which served its 24th annual meal Thursday.

There were 615 people served at this year’s community dinner — just shy of the event’s record of 623 people, said Amy Neustel, who organized the dinner with Sue Corwin.

The event — which served its free meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Concordia Lutheran Church — had 336 people dine in the church and delivered 279 meals, Neustel said.

There was a rush of people from about 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Corwin said.

“We had to set up a couple of extra tables in the Sunday school room. It’s the first time we’ve had to do that,” she said.

But there was plenty of food to serve the crowd, and Neustel said no one had to wait too long for a meal.

Although Buegel didn’t help cook the turkeys, she helped set tables and did other things for the event.

“I like to greet people, because some people might be hesitant or they might not know what to do if it’s their first time here,” she said.

Buegel ate her meal with two first-time community dinner attendants Thursday.

Jackie Tarpinian said she and her husband, Mike, usually cook dinner for their family, but there weren’t any family members visiting Jamestown this year.

“It’s as close to home-cooked as I’ve ever had,” Tarpinian said of the meal.

More than 100 volunteers worked throughout last week to prepare the meal, which was cooked in the University of Jamestown kitchen.

As usual, there was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, bread and pumpkin pie served this year.

“It was exceptional,” said Rusty Schauer, who said he looks forward to the dinner every year.

Salad, donated by UJ’s food service, was a new addition to the dinner’s menu this year, Corwin said.

The dinner is paid for entirely by donors, Neustel said. In addition to monetary donations, local businesses also donate food, she said.

Buegel said her husband’s goal when he started the dinner was to provide somewhere for Jamestown community members or visitors to enjoy the annual holiday meal without the fuss of cooking and to be able to be with others if their family is far away.

“It’s a good place for people,” Buegel said.

The dinner has drawn a much bigger crowd in recent years than it did when Buegel’s husband first started it 24 years ago, she said. Fritz Buegel’s original goal for the dinner was to serve at least 500 people, Neustel said.

Buegel said she is happy to see the annual community dinner tradition continue and is grateful to the volunteers.

“It’s just a good thing for our community,” she said.

Sun reporter Charly Haley can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at chaley@jamestownsun.com

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