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Thanksgiving dinner at La Plata County Fairgrounds a no-go this year

Manna soup kitchen will step in to serve to-go meals
More than 1,200 diners were served at the Durango Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving Day 2016 in the Exhibit Hall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

People looking to enjoy a community Thanksgiving dinner will not have the decadeslong event held at the La Plata County Fairgrounds to fall back on this year.

“I don’t know why the group canceled the event here,” said Emily Spencer, general manager of the fairgrounds. “I hold space for that every single year and set it aside because we love having that event here.”

Durango residents will have limited options to enjoy a community Thanksgiving meal this year after organizers behind the decadelong La Plata County Fairgrounds event pass the baton to Manna soup kitchen.

Manna soup kitchen has stepped into the breach to serve Thanksgiving meals, but it will be a drive-thru pick-up-and-go meal served from 9 a.m. to noon. All are welcome.

Manna Executive Chef Seanan Culloty reached out to Spencer to tell her there would not be a Thanksgiving dinner at the fairgrounds this year, she said.

“He called me and said, ‘Hey, they’ve reached out to me and they don’t have the bandwidth to do a full-scale serving-style Thanksgiving. They reached out to me to see if I would do just a cooking drive-thru up at Manna.’ Which he agreed to do,” she said. “They are not going to use our space.”

The Thanksgiving event at the fairgrounds was extremely popular and Spencer says she has received quite a few calls from people offering to volunteer.

“I think they had up to a thousand people here for Thanksgiving in the past,” she said. “And I can only imagine the amount of people it took to cook that food and serve that food. So the calls I’ve gotten for volunteers who wanted to support that effort, I’ve sent them all to Manna to volunteer.”

In the past, the Thanksgiving Day dinner at the fairgrounds was a joint effort by Durango-area churches, but Spencer did not know who reached out to Culloty. The last time the event was held was in 2019. The event was canceled in 2020 because of fears about the coronavirus.

Culloty and Manna Executive Director Ann Morse could not be reached Monday for comment.

The Durango Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4031, located at 1550 Main Ave., is hosting a Thanksgiving Day dinner for veterans and their families beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday. Anyone who wants to attend should drop by the post to RSVP.

A potluck-style Community Thanksgiving dinner will also be held at the VFW from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday. It will be hosted by Agape Durango and is open to the greater Durango community. There will be turkey, dancing and live music. Those interested are asked to RSVP with Steven at 769-2507. Anyone who wants to help set up or entertain is asked to call Steven at the same number.

gjaros@durangoherald.com

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