Those near, far attend BP’s annual lutefisk, meatball dinner

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, October 21, 2015

By Ashley Stewart

Owatonna People’s Press

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — ‘Tis the season for lutefisk lovers.

And hundreds of them could be found at First Lutheran Church of Blooming Prairie’s annual Lutefisk and Meatball Dinner on Tuesday.

“We’ve been coming here for 20 years because somebody likes lutefisk,” said Lorraine Lent of the Hope area while pointing to her husband, John.

He nods while slipping another forkful of lutefisk into his mouth.

“I eat her share,” said John Lent with a smile.

And surrounding the Lents were others passing dishes filled with lutefisk, meatballs, mashed potatoes, cranberry salad and dessert, which consisted of Krumkake, a Norwegian waffle cookie, and rosettes.

At the Lents’ table — the one to be seated — sat eight members of Vista Covenant Church in New Richland.

“We go from place to place in the fall each year for lutefisk,” said Maryl Scott of New Richland sitting next to her husband, Neal.

Scott arrived in Blooming Prairie at 9 a.m. Tuesday — two hours ahead of the start of the dinner.

“That way they wouldn’t have to stand and wait to buy tickets or eat,” she said. “I brought my laptop, so I worked while waiting.”

The Scotts have attended the dinner for the last five years.

“The lutefisk is really good, the lefse is fantastic, the meatballs are wonderful and the service is phenomenal,” Scott said.

Others, like Madalen Ormsby, traveled farther to eat the Norwegian favorite.

Ormsby, who was born and raised in Mower County, now resides in Dallas, Texas, and planned her two-week vacation to attend the event.

“I’m 100 percent Norwegian,” she said.

And it’s the lutefisk that brought her hundreds of miles north.

“I can make mashed potatoes and all the other stuff, but I can’t get the lutefisk,” Ormsby said. “You can’t get it in Texas.”

Dorothy Perkins and Helen Ringham also traveled from out of state for the dinner.

“I’m from Northwood, [Iowa],” Perkins said.

The women attended the dinner for the first time this year.

“The food is just wonderful,” Perkins said. “They use regular dishes and not paper ones, too. That’s a first for me.”

By 11:30 a.m., 240 people filled the dining room while others waited in the sanctuary.

“We’ll probably do this at least three times,” said Ruth Earl, chair of the dinner.

Since 1934, the church has held the annual lutefisk and meatball dinner, but those aren’t the only two items on the menu.

Last week, volunteers baked about 1,600 Krumkake and 1,600 rosettes, and on Monday, nearly 100 people peeled potatoes, wrapped the lutefisk and rolled meatballs.

Earl said the church made 1,350 pounds of lutefisk, 900 pounds of potatoes, 224 pounds of ground beef and pork meatballs and purchased 1,300 rounds of lefse anticipating more than 1,000 people attending the dinner this year.

“This is great,” she said. “None of this would be done without all those working.”

That’s because there are at least 150 volunteering at some capacity throughout the dinner.

When people arrive at the church, they are seated in the sanctuary, where they wait to be seated at a 10-person table in the dining area. Once the people are seated at a neatly set table with glass dinnerware, church volunteers serve the dinner family-style.

Earl said the proceeds from the dinner go toward local, regional and worldwide organizations.

At the dinner, there were also homemade crafts and used-a-bit items for sale.