Annual Election Day ham and bean dinner prepared for more than 40 years

Members of Emmanuel’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germantown are gearing up for their Annual Election Day Ham and Bean dinner, a tradition for more than 40 years.

“I think the reason we started it on Election Day was that it allowed people time to come home from work, then go out to vote and not have to worry about fixing supper,” said Gordon Howard, a member of the church since 1948 who says he’s never missed an Election Day dinner. This year, he’s in charge of ticket sales.

“We’ve been doing this since the late ’60s,” he said. “It’s something we could do for the community, and it’s become very popular. There’s not a whole lot of political talk; folks just eat their food, sit and chat another half-hour, and see people they haven’t seen since the last year’s election.”

Pastor Michael Havey, who’s been at the church 12 years, works on the bean soup. “On Monday, people will come in and sort through the beans to get any stones out — we’re doing 64 pounds of beans, and use a pound of ham for every pound of beans.

“I’m impressed with the work people put into this meal — everything’s made from scratch, so it’s a real homemade meal.

“They’ll start the hams the weekend before the election, and save the juice to cook with the beans. We’ll start the beans around noon on Election Day and stagger the times so that when people get there, the beans haven’t been sitting around.

“The applesauce, slaw and cornbread are made in the church kitchen from scratch, and the cornbread’s served hot from the oven. It’s a busy kitchen from the weekend on.”

There’s a separate cleanup crew, and youth group members work the tables.

“When I first came here, I was amazed. Everyone seemed to know what to do. During the meal, I don’t hear people talking politics; they’ve voted and are waiting to hear the results.

“It’s a wonderful dinner, and a great time for the people who prepare and serve as well as for the people who come and enjoy it.”

The dinner will be held at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 30 West Warren St. in Germantown, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 6. Tickets can be ordered early by calling Howard at (937) 855-2891 or purchased at the door for $7 adults, $3 children 6-12, and free for anyone 5 and younger. Ticket price includes a beverage and dessert.

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