The Westman and Area Traditional Christmas Dinner is coming back to the Keystone Centre on Christmas Day, and after a two-year hiatus, promises to be bigger than ever!
The annual Christmas dinner has been a tradition for close to 40 years, and a highlight for many in the Westman area! I was started in 1985 by Rocky Addison in a little church on the corner of 8th & Victoria Avenue in Brandon - held on December 25th with only 30 people in attendance that first year! Now 37 years later, facilitators of the event share the annual Christmas Dinner with thousands of folks and families!
"This is something that a growing number of people seem to look forward to each Christmas," shares organizing committee member, Frank McGwire. "It's something that serves as an opportunity for people to give back to their community, and I can almost guarantee you that when you do give your time or donation to help the Westman and Area Traditional Christmas Dinner, you will in fact receive the Christmas Spirit ten-fold! It's amazing the looks on people's faces and when they get that meal, or they see their kids get the unwrapped presents that Santa will be handing out to them over the dinners!"
"It's an amazing thing and something that I look forward to year after year," he adds.
Please listen to more of the interview with Frank McGwire and CJRB's Betty Sawatzky below!
Prior to Covid, the annual Dinner was held most recently at the Victoria Inn. However, this year they will be returning to the Keystone Centre's MNP Hall in the upper level, a location well-known to the organizing committee as it had been at the Keystone location in the past - in fact, for 21 years. "It's like coming back home," shares McGwire.
The organizing committee anticipates some 4,000 plates to be served through families and individuals joining them on Christmas Day, but also through home deliveries, and pick-ups to go. He says preparing for this number of people requires extra hands and they welcome all volunteers, especially when they're looking at 1400 pounds of potatoes to peel, along with food prep of 1500 pounds of turkeys to cook and carve, 80 gallons of gravy to stir, 18 cases of vegetables to boil, 60 trays of stuffing to mix and 20 cases of cranberry sauce - all to make it truly traditional!
"We will always accept people who are willing to volunteer their time and efforts. For the preparations on December 23rd at noon in the MNP Hall we'll be making stuffing and peeling potatoes and cutting ham and wrapping hundreds of presents. We're looking for about 100 volunteers that day, and then throughout the rest of the event on Christmas Day we'll probably be looking at another 100 volunteers!"
Participants will also be entertained this year with a line-up of local talent to take the stage. There is still some room left on the itinerary so if you're willing to share some Christmas magic through entertainment, please contact McGwire who also heads up the Christmas Day event entertainment.
"We're hoping for another success this year for folks who, you know, may not have that fellowship or a Christmas meal to begin with, and they can now have the opportunity to receive that and that's what Christmas is all about," he adds. "Our slogan is 'no one should be alone at Christmas' and we do whatever we can to help those who would be alone, or would go without, and we make sure to open the doors with this event to make sure people have someone to share their dinner with, break bread with and enjoy some fellowship with - and this year with some entertainment we'll make it a great time for those involved!"
McGwire says an event of this magnitude couldn't be done without the help of all of their sponsors. He shares a special thank you to everyone involved, with Sunrise Credit Union taking the lead as the major sponsor of the event. As well he gives special recognition to the Keystone Centre's Board of Directors, "who had a hand in making it possible for the Dinner to come back to this venue because that is really big, and convenient for everybody involved. It's the perfect venue and we couldn't be happier! To have it back at the Keystone Centre is like coming back home!"
To volunteer for The Westman and Area Traditional Christmas Dinner, or to make a monetary or gift donation, or to participate in the entertainment program, or to register for meals please call 204–728-7987.
For more information, please visit their website: Supper | Westman And Area Traditional Christmas Dinner