Deerfield Brotherhood hosts Ground Hog Supper
By ANGIE HAFLICH
DEERFIELD — A long-standing tradition continued here Wednesday night, as the Deerfield Brotherhood hosted its 75th Annual Ground Hog Supper.
Lines began forming at the Deerfield Community Center at 4:30 p.m. as people anticipated the supper of sausage, potatoes and gravy, corn, biscuits, applesauce and ice cream.
About 120 volunteers help with the supper by cooking, serving and bussing tables — service that also has become a long-standing tradition among both community members and within local families.
Dave Baier and his 15-year-old son, Landon, both of Deerfield, took turns stirring gravy, and committee member Ross Miller said Landon is the third generation of Baiers to do so.
"His grandfather, Dave Baier Sr., who passed away about two years ago, used to do the skillet," Miller said.
Landon's uncle, Terry Baier, helped deliver the biscuits and gravy, both of which were prepared at the Deerfield Elementary School, over to the servers at the community center.
"A lot of these guys have been doing this for 40 years," Miller said, adding that he had been doing it for about 43 years himself. "And the kids who are waiting on people now — that's how we all started."
Ed Palacz, Lakin, has been in charge of gravy production for about as many years, and estimated that they would serve 30 to 35 gallons of it on Wednesday night.
Monte Morgan, Deerfield, oversaw the biscuit production and said they usually bake about 2,000 biscuits.
Joe Eskelund, another 40-plus-year veteran involved with the supper, said he is a jack-of-all-trades every year.
"I'm the secretary treasurer to start with, and then a little bit of everything. I'm supposed to be a seater, but you kind of end up bussing tables, hauling trash, sacking to go plates," Eskelund said.
Jim Morton, Deerfield, is another longtime contributor to the meal. He oversaw the sausage preparation, which along with the potato preparation, took place across the street from the community center.
"I'm supposed to be the head cook. I'm supposed to be, but I don't get to cook sausage. I do all the other things to keep it going," Morton said, adding with a laugh that he is the supervisor.
When asked if there was a secret ingredient that made the sausage taste so good, Morton said, "I don't know whether it's a secret or not, but it's a whole hog, and I think that's the main reason it's so good."
Miller said that he, along with 55 other organizers, processed 26 hogs into sausage this year, totaling 3,600 pounds. From 900 to 1,000 pounds were served at the supper itself.
Miller said that people from all over southwest Kansas come to the event each year.
"I would say probably 30 to 40 percent of our crowd comes from Garden City, and I would say 60 to 70 percent come from out of town," Miller said, adding that people from Holcomb, Scott City, Liberal, Ulysses, and other surrounding communities also drive over for it. "It is called the granddaddy of them all, and we are the oldest."
Don and Martha Wiens, Garden City, enjoyed their suppers along with friends Glenn and Carol Suderman, Garden City.
"We've never had a bad supper here," Glenn Suderman said.
"We always enjoy it. We make sure we don't miss it," Don Wiens said.
The two couples have been attending the supper for more than 20 years.
Roy and Julie Cessna, Garden City, came to the supper with their two sons, Brady and Colby, and Julie's parents, Kenny and Penny Grauberger, also of Garden City. Penny Grauberger said that they have been coming to the supper for 13 years, and Julie Cessna said that the first time her husband met her parents was at the Deerfield Ground Hog Supper.
By the end of the evening, 1,397 dinners were sold, of which anywhere from 300 to 400 were carry-out.
"We had one guy here a little while ago walk out with 12 meals. We've been blessed. People like coming here to eat. On beautiful days we have big crowds," Miller said.
The suppers were $7 for adults, $4 for kids grade K-5, and free for kids younger than kindergarten age. In addition, leftover sausage was sold for $4 per pound. Miller said they usually raise $5,000 to $6,000 and that all of the proceeds go to community programs, including the Methodist and Catholic churches, youth programs such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and to scholarships.
"It is good to do good things, and this is a good thing," Miller said.