ASHLAND Thanksgiving dinner for 1,700 isn’t something you put together in a day.

At the Ashland Elks Lodge, it’s a meal that takes more like four days, and some nights too.

It takes that long to bake 44 turkeys and make the dressing, potatoes, veggies and desserts served to feasters at the lodge’s annual turkey day community meal Thursday.

The work started at midnight Saturday when the first eight turkeys went into the oven, and lodge members were there all night putting in more turkeys every three hours, coordinator Mark Ison said.

More lodge members removed the meat from the bones and stored it in a walk-in cooler, and still more members are in charge of making dressing, potatoes and other sides.

The dressing is made the old-fashioned way — shredded bread crispened in the oven and then mixed with herbs. “There’s no box-top dressing here,” Ison said.

In all it takes 30 to 40 people to produce the dinner and about 130 to serve and clean.

Every bit of it is done by volunteers, he said. And they wouldn’t have it any other way. “We don’t know how to do Thanksgiving than to be here. We see the same faces every year. We have great helpers,” he said.

Last year’s dinner served more than 1,700 people, the most ever. To make sure there will be enough food, volunteers are preparing 600 pounds of dressing, 16 cases of green beans, 500 pounds of potatoes and 25 quarts of gravy.

The dinners, both eat-in and takeout, are free, and everything is paid for with donations.

More volunteers are always welcome, and should show up between 8:30 and 9 a.m. to help get meals ready.

But willing workers may come at any time. “I’ll find them something to do. I will not turn any help away,” Ison said.

The dinner runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the lodge at 900 Carter Ave.

Calls for delivery or pickup orders will be taken between 7-10 a.m. Thursday at 606-324-5720 or 606-324-3557.

(606) 326-2652 |

mjames@dailyindependent.com

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