Lutefisk lost: First Lutheran’s annual fundraising dinner falls victim to snowstormAt least they’ll have meatballs. And if parishioners at First Lutheran Church in Duluth are willing to pay $5.71 for each 1½-inch ball, the church will be OK without the annual lutefisk fundraising dinner today.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
At least they’ll have meatballs.
And if parishioners at First Lutheran Church in Duluth are willing to pay $5.71 for each 1½-inch ball, the church will be OK without the annual lutefisk fundraising dinner today. It was one of numerous events canceled because of the lingering snowstorm blanketing the Northland.
That meatball markup would make up for the $10,000 the annual salmon, meatball and lutefisk feed usually raises for the church’s charitable programs, including missions and donations to area causes.
“We’ll have to charge a hefty price for meatballs,” Char Juntunen, dinner coordinator, joked. She was in the church kitchen with a handful of volunteers Tuesday morning making 1,750 meatballs out of 200 pounds of beef.
The meatballs will be sold to church members Sunday at $5 a dozen. The 550-pound lutefisk order was canceled, and the 390 pounds of salmon donated by the Rogotzke family probably will go to a local charitable meal provider.
The church was allowed to return 600 pounds of potatoes and boxes of cole slaw.
One hundred loaves of Swedish limpa and cranberry bread were donated to the Damiano Center.
It’s the first time the dinner, which kicks off Advent, has been canceled since it was rejuvenated 19 years ago, and its popularity led to the decision, Juntunen said.
“There’s just too much risk,” she said of asking people to venture out in what could end up being 20 inches of snow by late today.
Older people who already have a hard time getting around flock to the dinner, Juntunen said, as do those from places far away from Duluth, including the Twin Cities area. The church received a call from Madison, Wis., with someone asking if the meal still was on.
It was a “very difficult” decision, Juntunen said, but one that parishioners understood. The intricate schedule for the 100 volunteers would have to be reworked depending on who could make it in, she said, and that process is too difficult.
Rescheduling the dinner would be impossible as well, she said, since people are busy as Christmas approaches.
“It’s a bummer,” said Steve Broderius, a 35-year church member and dinner volunteer. “So many people look forward to this.”
The forecast for many more inches of snow made the decision a sensible one, he said.
“We’d be promoting people taking a lot of risk,” he said.
First Lutheran also is known for hosting the annual CHUM Rhubarb Festival fundraiser. Juntunen was making freezer space for the meatballs by moving the stored rhubarb.
The church will have to make up the money somehow, she said, and the idea of the $5 meatball danced in her head.
She and other church members are taking the cancellation in the spirit of the season.
“We say the Grinch stole lutefisk this year,” Juntunen said.