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Good Friends and Lutefisk


If anyone visits North Dakota, it becomes apparent that many of the communities have a strong focus on church life. One shining example are church suppers, held every year, usually in the fall.

On this date in 1947, the town of Hannaford held a supper sponsored by the Ladies Aid organization. Admission was 40 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. Two weeks prior, the organization arranged a supper committee, which in turn divided into sub-committees in charge of planning each phase of the supper. The day of the event, Hilda Gilbertson, president of the Ladies Aid, and her forty helping members, got to work at 9am to prepare the food. The feast consisted of traditional Norse fare. The meatballs were prepared from a recipe brought from the homeland. Lutefisk was carefully rinsed of lye. There was dark raisin bread, Sand Bakkelse, and of course, lefse. Much of the food was donated, including an estimated 100 pies! While the chefs were cooking, others prepared the Ladies Hall, cleaning and decorating.

When five o’clock finally rolled around, people began to arrive, many having starved themselves all day in anticipation. The first 75 took their seats at three long tables covered with white linen and “resplendent with shining silverware and the best china in the neighborhood.” There were locals who had walked to the hall and others who drove over 100 miles! There was even one person from California who happened to be visiting. More than food, there was plenty of socializing, and the whole scene was described as “gay and happy.”

Mrs. Pearson, who had travelled from Minnesota asked Reverend Lee what they do with the $140 collected. He said the ladies give $100 towards the church budget, designate some to a loan repayment effort called a “sinking fund,” and sends not a little to the Orphans Home at Lake Park, Minnesota.

At the end of the night, Ladies Aids volunteers soaked the dishes in preparation for a deep clean in the morning. While the supper may have been over, the community was now a little stronger, thanks to the hard work of the Ladies Aid.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas