Buried deep between the rolling hills of West Virginia, just a few miles down the road from my grandparents farm, lies a small white church. A church where my grandparents and parents got married, and where my great grandmother was laid to rest. The grounds of the church hold many childhood memories for me. I try to visit as often as I can, but there is one special Saturday I always reserve. The first Saturday of August. The church hosts their annual Chicken Dinner. The dinner has been hosted for 84 years and every year brings new memories and stories to tell. The dinner has changed in very few ways over the years, but one thing that stays constant is the good food, wonderful people, and beautiful display of desserts!
One of the things I look forward to the most is spending the Saturday morning before the dinner baking with my gram and my mom. All year leading up to the dinner, we discuss what cakes we want to make for the next years dinner. We have created quite the stockpile of cake recipe books!
This year, we decided on 4 cakes: a Humming Bird Cake (my favorite cake of all time!), a German Chocolate cake, Angel Food Cake, and a Lane Cake. Gram also made a few trays of homemade cinnamon rolls--delicious! And with each of the cakes, came their very own made-from-scratch icing.
This chicken dinner is the main fundraiser for this small church, so many parishioners donate their time and efforts. I couldn't wait to drive the cakes down the road and head into the church hall. As soon as I walked into the hall, the familiar smell made all my childhood memories hit me right in the face. I remember running around with my siblings and my cousin after mass while our parents were catching up with old friends and family over a cup of coffee and donuts!
At about 3:45 the line was starting to form. The dinner didn't start until 4:30, but this dinner has made quite the name in the little town of Camden, WV. ** CORRECTION: It was earlier stated that they served 423 people, but I was politely corrected by my gram that the correct amount of people served was approximately 460 people!! Thank you to all of the countless volunteers who make this day happen every year!
Guests are served with plates of chicken, fresh picked green beans, and made-from-scratch mashed potatoes and gravy, and a traditional coleslaw. And of course, the dinner wouldn't be complete without homemade bread, strawberry jam, sweet tea, and a quilt raffle!
This hour trip down the road is one of my favorites to make. It gives me such a sense of belonging and a recharge. West Virginia has such a special place in my heart, especially the little town this church is located in, and I wouldn't miss the first Saturday at the church for anything. I love watching my grandparents laugh with friends and seeing my mom meet up with cousins she hasn't seen in 30 years. This year, I completely needed this trip. I needed a refresher to remind me of where I came from and why what I do is so important to me. My grandmother has always pushed me to do what I feel I am supposed to be doing in this world--and right now, I know for certain that I am supposed to make couples wedding dreams come true. I hope you enjoyed getting to know a small part of me a little better--if you're ever in Camden, WV and looking for a quaint little church to attend mass, they always have an open door.