Duck and Ham Dinner prevails despite rain

October 9, 2018

Despite the rain, hundreds came out for the annual Duck and Ham Dinner on Sunday, Oct. 7. The event is one of the largest fundraisers for the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Abie.

Rev. Ron Homes said he was worried the poor weather would deter people from coming. Looking at the crowd right after the event began, he said he thought the number in attendance was larger than last year’s.

“We had more people at mass than we did last year, so that’s a good sign,” Homes said. “It is a good crowd and it’s going to get packed. If you’re here in one hour, I don’t care if it’s a small crowd or not, there won’t be any green grass to see because it will be solid people.”

Roger Rathje of Surprise came to the dinner with his family for the first time this year. He said they have gotten take out food from the event before but have never dinned in at the church.

“We’ve had take out before and thought it was really good,” he said. “So we just thought we would come over and enjoy the facility.”

The church has been putting on the annual fundraiser for at least the past 75 years. Homes said the parish dates back to the 1800’s and that the church building itself was built over a century ago.

In 2017, the four year renovation project on the Romanesque style church wrapped up. Randy Vavrina, the parishe’s trustee, said each year they hope to raise $20,000 from the event to help pay off the renovation loan and fund church programs. He said the church planned for around 1,000 to attend the dinner and auction.

People come here from all over for the traditional Czech meal of duck and dumplings, Homes said especially since the The Bohemian Cafe restaurant in Omaha closed two years ago.

“People come here from all over the place for duck,” he said.

The event featured a silent and oral auction. Some of the highlight items at the live auction were 200 gallons of propane, six bags of Pioneer Hi-Bred seed corn and two tickets to the Nebraska-Minnesota football game on Oct. 20.

Also at the dinner was a country store with baked goodies for sale. Sweet treats at the store included homemade bread, strudel and canned goods. Goldie Krivanek was one of the volunteers at the store. She said their best-seller were the kolaches, a type of traditional Czech pastry.

The country store and auction were all housed underneath a large tent loaned to the church from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Prague. Vavrina said it took a lot of hard work to set it up and make all the necessary preparations for the dinner, but it was worth it.

“It’s a long day, it’s a lot of setting up, but once the day gets going it kind of runs itself,” he said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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