It’s the time of year when signs for a certain delicious event can be found plastered all around town… it’s Fall Supper season!
When I was growing up, my family’s church had potlucks a couple times a year. This is probably where my logic-defying love of jellied salads (the normal, desserty ones, not the ones that incorporate actual salad ingredients like lettuce and peas) was developed, but I digress. I’d sort of forgotten that the church put on “Fall Supper”, too. So when, during my first autumn in Manitoba, I started seeing signs for fall suppers around town, I was reminded of how much I loved these meals, and became very keen to go to one — or two, or three 🙂
The Fall Supper is a widespread and beloved prairie tradition. According to Travel Manitoba,
“Autumn has been a season of super suppers for more than a century in rural and small-town Manitoba. The harvest-time meals were originally called “fowl suppers” because the main course was typically duck or goose. … Local residents donate the food and labor for these seasonal fundraising events. Proceeds benefit community and social service organizations, veterans groups, churches, and other nonprofit causes.”
Another Travel Manitoba article describes how each supper has its own idiosyncracies:
“Each supper has its own style. At St. Pierre-Jolys, half-a-dozen local school band students open the dinner from a balcony overlooking the hall, trumpeting through an awkward but earnest rendition of O Canada. St. Francois Xavier sets up bake sale tables of dainties, cookies and pastries. At Oakville, dinner tickets are purchased through the driver’s side window from two fellows in an idling minivan parked beside the entrance; their cash box a gallon-size ice cream bucket. At La Salle, children carry platters of veggies and dip outside to keep folks waiting in line from getting peckish while they cool their heels for the next sitting.”
Doesn’t this sound wonderful? And I just love this blog post about typical fall suppers (albeit Saskatchewan ones) from the author’s childhood, and the pleasure of stumbling upon one as a hungry, tired adult:
“It was Christmas dinner without being worried if Uncle Al would drink too much or crazy old Aunt Margaret would call a curse down on the Catholics during grace. The gaiety of the kids tables now translated to adults free of their social norm and in an atmosphere where a guy could openly flirt with the woman next door because she just made such great scalloped potatoes and a lonely telephone operator could draw an appreciative smile from a gentleman farmer with her flaky pastry.”
Love it! Anyway, this is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a very long time, because for whatever reason, I didn’t manage to get to a Manitoba fall supper until this past weekend. My in-laws took the whole family to the Ile Des Chenes Fall Supper instead of having us over for our usual Sunday dinner.
The supper was held at the brand-new IDC Community Centre and when we arrived at 5pm, the place was packed – I’d guess there were at least 500 people there. Once we had our tickets (blue for dinner, red for dessert) we got in line, mouths watering. We were handed plates and napkins by kids from Seine River Minor Baseball (the supper was in support of them) and piled them high with buns, coleslaw, Caesar salad, ultra-tasty pickles, and cubed cheese. Once we got to the service stations, we were offered turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, sweet and sour meatballs, gravy, and the meal’s proclaimed winner, homemade perogies, slathered in butter and onions. They were so good; imagine sour cream and onion chips, only in perogy form… awesome!
The funniest part of the evening was when my sister-in-law, who is also not from Manitoba, exclaimed with surprise, “This food is really good!” Everyone just looked at her like, “Duh! It’s a fall supper!” Styrofoam plates can be deceiving 😉
After we’d all but licked our plates clean, we headed over to the dessert table, where we each selected a treat from an ever-changing spread of homemade cakes, pies, dainties (hah, I wanted to write “squares” just there, but when in Manitoba…), cookies, and cupcakes. We polished those off, chased them with Caisse-logo emblazoned cups of coffee, then cleared out to make room for awaiting hungry diners.
My first fall supper experience was a bit hurried – between knowing there were lots of folks waiting in line, and chasing our energetic 16-month around the room, it wasn’t exactly relaxing. I think next time we’d try to go a little earlier and maybe bring a booster seat along. But I loved the whole event – the food, the atmosphere, the feeling of all ages spending time together, and all the friendly faces. I can’t wait to go again sometime.
Here’s a giant list of all the fall suppers held in Manitoba this year. There’s still time to check one (or more) out!
Did you go to any fall suppers this year? Have fond or funny memories of suppers past? Which town has the very best one? I’d love to hear all your fall supper stories!