Estes Park’s 8th Annual Thanksgiving Community Feast
By: Kris Hazelton
Thanksgiving is a time for food, celebration, and fun. Every year on Thanksgiving, families gather around the table to enjoy a meal and give thanks. But for some folks, Thanksgiving can be a lonely time. Many adults spend the holidays feeling isolated and depressed.
The annual Estes Park Thanksgiving Feast is a wonderful, heartwarming community event that brings folks from all walks of life together to enjoy a delicious meal, friendly conversation, comraderie and fun.
The event began eight years ago when feast founders Don and Larraine Darling moved to Estes Park with their children and realized they would be alone for Thanksgiving. Larraine, in particular, found that holiday to be very difficult for her and wished from that time on, that no person would spend Thanksgiving alone in their new community.
Don and Larraine are past owners of the Notchtop Café which provided them with the perfect venue to have a small Thanksgiving dinner for those without family in the area who would enjoy a community gathering. Family friend, Steve Misch teamed up with Larraine and Don to facilitate the event for the first time in 2000, with the support of the Sunrise Rotary Club.
A full Thanksgiving feast was prepared that year and a handful of folks showed up for the event. According to Steve, “We always felt that the Lord would bring the right people through the front door, and He did, it was joyous for us all.” As a result of a fun and successful event, Larraine and Steve decided to commit to another year and began planning the Thanksgiving feast for 2001.
For the next two years, the Thanksgiving feast was enjoyed by nearly 100 people, not including the many volunteers who stepped up to help. Our community continued to reach out in support with donations of food, time and of course, finances.
In 2004, Steve leased The Hangar Restaurant at the 18 Hole Golf Course and the feast was moved to that location. That year organizers began to see folks from every cross-section of the Estes Valley, including out-of-town visitors. In addition, they began to serve the “shut-in” community. Those unable to get out were now being served, a hot, delicious Thanksgiving meal delivered to their door.
In 2005, Larraine and Steve received an invitation from the Mountain View Bible Fellowship Church to utilize their gymnasium for this growing event. They gladly accepted their offer.
The feast then took on a new look as entertainment was introduced with, among others, Cowboy Brad and Kathy Fitch and the children were being entertained with face painters. Eagle Rock and Ravencrest students became involved in this community event and the volunteer staff grew to over 75 people! Steve and Larraine felt blessed to serve over 300 folks that year.
The 8th Annual Community Thanksgiving Feast will be held once again this year on Thanksgiving Day from 11:30 a.m. til 3:00 p.m. at Mountain View Fellowship at Highway 7 and Peak View Drive.
The day consists of a full Thanksgiving Feast, entertainment, a bake sale, face-painting and more! Come one, come all there is no cost to attend this event.
This event is sponsored by the Estes Valley Sunrise Rotary and hosted by Mountain View Bible Fellowship Church.
In addition to the delicious dinner with all the trimmings, there is a beautiful dessert table with yummy items to take home for a donation. Proceeds from the sales will go towards defraying costs and preparing for next year’s community Thanksgiving. Steve and Larraine welcome anyone who wishes to bake some items and donate them to the dinner/dessert table.
Remember, this feast is open to all members of the Estes Valley, their friends and family and those who want to visit from outside our area.
If you would like to contribute food or funds to this fantastic event, or for more information, please contact Steve Misch at 970-586-2689 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.