86th Annual Lutefisk Dinner set for Saturday


January 31, 2019

Havre Daily News staff

A centuries-old delicacy returns to the Hi-Line Saturday in a decades-old tradition with the 86th Annual First Lutheran Church Annual Swedish Meatball and Norwegian Lutefisk Dinner at First Lutheran Church at in Havre.

The dinner is the longest-running ethnic event in Havre, Jim Griggs said in a press release about the dinner.

Serving begins at noon in the First Lutheran Fellowship Hall and runs to 6 p.m.

The Scandinavian dinner originally started as a small gathering in the old church parsonage where a handful of people were served a lutefisk dinner, Griggs said. As time went on, the Swedish meatballs were added to give those who disliked lutefisk as a choice of food and yet stay with an ethnic foods dinner.

Lutefisk is a Scandinavian delicacy consisting of white fish — generally cod — that is dried then soaked in lye and water then soaked and rinsed off in water for several days before cooking.

The dinner itself becomes almost secondary to the fellowship which is enjoyed by those attending and those working the event,” Griggs said in the release.

“Ever wonder why so many people get so excited about Norweigian Lutefisk and Swedish meatball?” Griggs asked “Could it be that its not so much the lutefisk or meatballs for many, but everything else that goes with the meal, the geat boiled potatoes, coleslaw, lefsa, rolls, melted butter, cranberry sauce, sandbakkles, ice cream and, of cousre, lots of strong Norweigian coffee.”

For the most part, all of the items listed above are pretty self-explanitory, he said, except for sandbakkles, which is a dessert that some claim to be the best part of the dinner.

The making of sandbakkeles take place anywhere from one to two weeks prior to the dinner. Sandbbakkles are pastries which are pressed into small tins and baked in the oven.

“They are served with a dish of ice cream that tops off the best meal in town on the day of the dinner.” Griggs said.

“Believe it or not, there are great number of people who travel great distances to partake of this fabulous, ethnic meal,” he added. “Across Montana, every year in late fall and early winter, Lutheran congregations put on lutefisk and meatball dinners. Most of these are fundraising projects put on by various congregations.”

The dinner in Havre is hosted by Lutherans in Mission members from First Lutheran and Messiah Lutheran Churches, and, although the men seem to be in charge, without the help of all the women preparing so many parts of the dinner the men would be hard-pressed to make the event a success.

The funds raised from the dinner are used for various worthwhile projects. For years the funds went to the Lutheran Home of the Good Shepherd, now the funds are given to the Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp and other local projects including Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen and the school Back Pack Program.

Thrivent is a corporate sponsor of the dinner.

The dinner costs $18 with children younger than 14 charged $6.

Delivery is available for people who are shut-ins. People needing delivery can call 265-5881.


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