ELY– It’s been a comforting tradition for 62 years.
The First Presbyterian Church near Ely is hosting its 63rd annual Chicken Soup and Kolach supper on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 4 until 7 p.m., and while the years have brought some changes to the fundraising event, much remains the same.
And the hundreds who attend like it that way.
Church secretary and soup supper volunteer Misti Huedepohl said there are repeat customers who come every year, but as time goes on, new generations of soup lovers come to make it their own tradition as well.
“People who live in our neighborhood and the community make a point to come,” said Huedepohl, “and often they bring children, guests, friends and neighbors of their own. Usually, everyone is pleasantly surprised by the great tasting food and how filling it is.”
Adults pay just $7– kids three to 12 pay just $4– for the delicious menu of piping hot, homemade chicken noodle soup with crackers, fresh bread, homemade relishes and a drink, plus fresh-baked kolaches made by church members and volunteers.
“The kolaches are the deal breaker,” said Huedepohl. The time-honored Czech pastry is delicate and difficult to make just right. “Our bakers have a reputation for making authentic, great-quality kolaches.”
Aside from enjoying them with your meal, additional kolaches can be purchased by the dozen at the event’s country store, where attendees can also buy other baked goods and homemade gift items.
Added this year is another set of musical entertainment by the Rev. Jim DeSmidt and his wife Jean. Mr. DeSmidt served as the pastor of First Presbyterian near Ely years ago, and have since moved to Colorado. Both are musicians, and they timed a trip to Iowa to coincide with this year’s soup supper. They will provide musical entertainment from 6 until 7 p.m. after the Iowa Accordion Club completes their set from 3:30 until 6 p.m.
The annual event is a huge undertaking for the entire church congregation. From older members of the church to youth group members, everyone pitches in.
“We ask all church members to volunteer, and it takes a tremendous amount of volunteers to make it happen each year,” Huedepohl said. “Our youth are great with serving and waiting on tables. It takes a lot of energy, but it gives them a chance to interact with our visitors who come for dinner.”
And when visitors come once, they seem to keep coming back.
The average attendance from year to year is 600 people, and they all attend over the course of one three hour period.
“They keep coming back because our church is in a really scenic, beautiful location in Linn County. It’s just a pretty drive along a country road. Once you get there, you sit in the sanctuary and wait for your number to be called, visit with your friends and neighbors and be entertained with live music. The menu is predictably delicious, and it’s very affordable,” said Huedepohl. “All that combined makes for a really lovely evening.”
The First Presbyterian Church near Ely is located at 11100 Spanish Rd., about one mile west of Ely.