The Rim Country and its diverse residents — from those who grew up here to those who came a little later — have many tremendous traditions that help make this a wonderful community. Perhaps one of the most special is the annual Elks Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
The members of the Elks have presented the dinner, free of charge, to the community for five years now. This Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, the club will have its sixth dinner and organizers have 700 tickets in distribution.
Bob Troutman and his wife Adrienne started the tradition in 2003, with the help of almost more volunteers than they knew what to do with.
The first year, about 400 dinners were served at the Elks Lodge and more than 100 home deliveries were made.
Troutman and the Elks have already ordered the food to prepare the buffet and home deliveries.
“We don’t need any food donations, but financial assistance would be appreciated,” Troutman said.
The tickets to the meal are free, but help the Elks manage seating arrangements. The meal will be served in three different seatings of about 200 per session: noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. The buffet will offer roasted turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, vegetables, rolls, jellied cranberry sauce, salad and pies. Troutman said it is also all-you-can-eat.
Tickets are available at the Elks Lodge, 1206 N. Beeline Highway, Payson; the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce office; the Payson Senior Center; the Pine library and the Pine Senior Center Thrift Store.
DJ Craig will provide the music again this year.
Troutman said he and Elks need about 50 volunteers to set up the lodge for the dinner, serving and clean up.
Among the many people who have been part of the community event throughout its history are Mikey Kerns, Ev Griffin, Joyce Keddington, Beverly and Dwayne Cunningham and Jerri Russell.
To make arrangements for a Thanksgiving dinner from the Elks to be delivered to the homebound, call the lodge at (928) 474-2572 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Financial help can be dropped at the Elks Lodge during the same hours, mailed to the Payson Elks, P.O. Box 898, Payson, AZ 85547. Troutman said donations may also be made at the dinner. Checks should be made payable to the Payson Elks with the Community Thanksgiving Dinner noted on the memo line.