Prairie Potluck!

7 Apr

Boy, did I hit the right time to be in rural Saskatchewan. Prairie potluck! And so much more! Alice, a lovely woman from the Eastend Arts Council and a local artist, phoned me at the Wallace Stegner House to tell me about a community potluck that she thought might be of interest. Yes, yes, yes! Potlucks are one of my favorite food events, and I haven’t been to a rural prairie potluck since I was a schoolgirl.

This potluck was organised by the Eastend Historical Museum, Old Man on His Back Prairie & Heritage Conservation Area, and artists/partners Diana Chabros & Joseph Naytowhow. Diana and Joseph live in nearby Val Marie and are spearheading an initiative for arts, heritage, tourism and economic development in the area. This potluck was also an informal info session for that, and what a great way to get the community out and involved.

Part 1: The Community Potluck Dinner
The potluck was held in the historic Eastend school-house, now the town’s Activity Centre.

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Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy were the main attraction.

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The salad table did not disappoint – the mainstays of a rural potluck were there: ambrosia and jellied salads!

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Coleslaw was my contribution (on the right behind the buns).

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The dessert table.

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Me and my loaded dinner plate.

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My dessert plate (note the Fire King mug).

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Part 2: Entertainment
After dinner, we moved to the dance hall room and Diana talked about their initiative and introduced the evening‘s many and varied activities. The entertainment began with storytelling by Joseph. Then it was open mike and some of the locals valiantly stepped forward: Alice’s husband John told a story about his grandparents’ homesteading experiences, a local man Garry recited poetry, and another local man Eugene sang a couple of songs to his recent blushing bride, Dorothy (seated on the right).

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Joseph then did some jigging, joined by Diana and one of the crowd, and accompanied by a few musicians from the Saturday Night Band.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wEYVxbn4f4

Part 3: Pie throwing contest
We moved quickly into the pie-throwing fundraiser portion of the evening. Brenda, a local writer and yoga instructor, kindly bought a pie in my name so now the new girl in town became part of the event. We pie throwers actually got to keep our pies (chocolate cream pie!) and we threw whipped cream pies. The targets were our hosts, Diana and Joseph. Mayor Howard (sporting a jaunty bow tie) threw the first pie and the rest of us pie-throwers followed.

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Prizes were awarded for “Best Artistry in Pie Throwing” and “Most Awkward Pie Throwing”. Guess who won the artistry prize? I’m sure it was just because I was the new girl in town and the resident artist of the moment. Nonetheless, I felt uncharacteristically athletic because my pie actually hit Joseph square in the kisser. I was trying NOT to hit him. Thus, the bulls-eye.

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Part 4: Dance with the Saturday Night Band
Now back to the dance hall room with the Saturday Night Band, consisting of musicians who get together to play regular $3.00 dances (including midnight potluck lunch) at the Eastend Activity Centre during dance season (when the roads are passable). The musicians hail from Eastend, Shaunavon, Ravenscraig, “The Bench” and other nearby areas. The ten-piece band includes one fiddle, two accordions and two banjos, which are some of my fave instruments!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9rA_IBz9MA

This dance reminded me so much of the dances in my home town of Rockyford, which were held at the Legion Hall and the locals danced to the musical stylings of Freddy Keelor and the Feed-Mill Five (all the musicians worked at the feed mill).

Alice’s gallant husband John invited me onto the dance floor for a waltz. I could have won the most awkward dancer prize, but John pretended not to notice and dauntlessly asked me for a second spin around the room.

A quiet escape from the swirling dance floor was offered in the adjoining room where a few of us were drawing a mural on a huge roll of paper.

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Part 5: The Finale
The evening ended with a round dance, a poetry recitation by Alice accompanied by Joseph on flute, and a chorus of Happy Birthday sung to one of the local men who had just turned 95, Whew – these people know how to party!

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I chatted through the night with many of the good citizens of Eastend and surrounding area and had a grand time all around.

Remember, if you’re coming to Eastend, be sure to bring your pot!

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Posted by Truly Scrumptious.

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6 Responses to “Prairie Potluck!”

  1. swankola April 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Wow, quite an evening! I’m glad to hear that no actual pies were harmed in the pie throwing contest. I’m curious about the jellied salad with the olive slices on top – savory or sweet or something inbetween?

    • Truly Scrumptious April 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      It was a traditional jellied green salad with shredded green cabbage, lime jell-o and mayonnaise. So basically savory.

  2. swankola April 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    I just noticed now – that’s quite a dessert plate. Why no lemon meringue pie? You got something against meringue?

    • Truly Scrumptious April 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

      Argghhh! Thanks for reminding me. I’m still regretting my poor planning. I should have nabbed a piece of lemon meringue pie at the same time as I got my dinner. No more Ms Nice Gal next time. However, the lemon sponge cake was delightful topped with real whipping cream, and the homemade pie had a lovely flaky crust and was filled with the yummy 99 cent per pkg Co-Op Special blackberries. And I can never pass on a Nanaimo bar or a cream puff. I’m hungry now, Maybe I should go have myself a nice piece of that chocolate cream pie…

  3. swankola April 8, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    You’re going to come back 20 lbs. heavier.

    • Truly Scrumptious April 8, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Except on non-potluck days, I have been living on borscht and kale salad (your favorite). Oh, but there is that chocolate cream pie all to myself…

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