POULSBO — Break out the knives and forks, the 89th annual lutefisk dinner at First Lutheran Church is coming this weekend.
The Oct. 19 dinner is a far cry from the early days of the event, which was held in the church’s social hall that seated 180 — that is until the fire department told the church it could only feed 120 people at a time there. In three days, between 1,100 and 1,500 guests are expected to be treated to 2,000 pieces of lefse, 600 pounds of meatballs and more than 200 dozen Norwegian cookies.
Volunteer Earl Hanson, who has been a greeter and seater at the event for 49 years, said he meets people from all over the nation and world who come to Poulsbo especially for the dinner. And, of course, the thing they come for is the lutefisk, a Norwegian cod fish delicacy that some love and some love to hate.
Hanson loves the stuff.
“When it’s time for me to sit down and eat, they have the salads and the potatoes and everything else and I pass all of that, I just have lefse and lutefisk,” Hanson said with a laugh, adding he likes to eat lutefisk the “Norwegian way” with melted butter, rather than with cream sauce like the Swedish.
Hanson said he feels many people who fear lutefisk have never tried the improved version the First Lutheran Dinner gets for the dinner from New Day Seafood. However, he said with a chuckle, less people eating lutefisk means more servings for him.
“We have three daughters and they don’t like it, they refuse to eat it and they say, ‘Mom, dad, do we have to be at the same table with you when you eat that stuff?’” he added.
The menu for the Oct. 19 dinner is:
• Lutefisk (made from true cod and processed by Scott Kimmell of New Day Fisheries) served with melted butter or cream sauce.
• Norwegian meatballs and gravy (an exclusive First Lutheran recipe).
• Dinner salad and sliced tomatoes.
• Sherbet with Norwegian cookies.
• Coffee, tea and milk.
Tickets for the event are $15 for adults and $5 for children younger than 12, and have been pre-sold throughout the month of October. Tickets are also available the day of the dinner at the door. Ticket holders are reminded to arrive 20 minutes before the seating time listed on their dinner ticket.
Besides the chance to sample traditional Norwegian fare, dinner-goers will also be treated to live entertainment including Norwegian dance groups and the Cloverblossom Band, playing Norwegian music. Miss Poulsbo Kristen Eddings will also be in attendance to greet visitors, and may also sing some songs for the crowd.
The event is a fund-raiser, with the majority of the proceeds going to Martha and Mary. Cookbooks, lefse and pickled herring will also be sold at the event.
The First Lutheran Church lutefisk dinner will run 11:20 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 19 in the church’s Christian Center. More info is available by calling (360) 779-2622, or going to http://www.poulsbo-lutefisk.com.