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3,000 meatballs. . . and lutefisk, too: Calvary Lutheran Church annual dinner Thursday evening

BEMIDJI--About 15 people spent their Wednesday morning preparing roughly 3,000 meatballs at Calvary Lutheran Church. The meatballs will be paired with lutefisk, gravy, potatoes, rutabagas, coleslaw, cranberries, lefse and more for the church's an...

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About 15 people prepared meatballs on Wednesday at Calvary Lutheran Church for their annual supper, which is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, at the church. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI-About 15 people spent their Wednesday morning preparing roughly 3,000 meatballs at Calvary Lutheran Church.

The meatballs will be paired with lutefisk, gravy, potatoes, rutabagas, coleslaw, cranberries, lefse and more for the church's annual supper this evening.

Among those 15 people were the father-son duo David and Mark Stephens, who helped with the meatballs. David has been attending church at Calvary Lutheran for about 77 years.

He remembers when they had to limit the dinner to about 200 people.

"Now, I think they serve pretty close to 600," David said.

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It was Mark's first year helping prepare meatballs, as he recently retired from teaching, but he's had a hand in the prep of the lutefisk before.

"We'll get the lutefisk prepared probably about 10 minutes before we start seating people and it's like a madhouse here because everyone has their jobs and everyone's running around," Mark said.

He added that cooking the lutefisk can be a meticulous task as the fish can easily be overcooked.

"Your good lutefisk eaters, they can tell when it's been overcooked so you have to be really careful," said Mark, who added the "true lutefisk eaters" tend to show up a bit early for the dinner to get their plateful.

Mark has slowly come around to lutefisk himself over the years as his family served it on Christmas Eve.

"When I was younger I didn't really care for it, but as I've gotten older, I don't know if my taste buds have gone dead but I guess I'll tolerate it now," he joked.

The dinner is planned for 4 to 7 p.m. today at Calvary Lutheran Church, 2508 Washington Ave. SE. Cost is $15 for adults, and $7 for children 10 and younger. Takeouts are available.

Calvary youth are also hosting a bake sale during the supper and musical entertainment will be provided in the sanctuary.

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