Helen Pridmore, left, and daughter Chase Pridmore work together Monday with a pound cake recipe they'll use to make desserts for the annual May Luncheon and Bake Sale at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, set for Friday, May 12 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. A spring tradition in Columbus, the community-wide event features chicken salad plates and barbecue plates. Dine-in or takeout is available. The church office is accepting takeout orders through Friday morning. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
May 10, 2017 10:23:59 AM
The month of May ushers in pleasant anticipation of festivals, graduations and that first trip to the beach. For many, it brings yet another occasion to look forward to in Columbus -- the annual May Luncheon and Bake Sale at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Few events can lay claim to such staying power: It's been a tradition for about 150 years. With two days to go before Friday's luncheon and sale (with takeout, too), preparations are in full swing. Organized by the Episcopal Church Women at St. Paul's, the event involves almost everyone in the congregation, women and men. Cooking 320 pounds of chicken, 200 pounds or more of barbecue, 120 pounds of potato salad and dozens of cakes, pies, cookies and cheese straws requires commitment, after all.
At Helen and Scott Pridmore's home, the aroma of a pound cake fresh from the oven wafted through the kitchen Monday as Helen and her daughter, Chase Pridmore, fine-tuned a recipe they plan to use for the bake sale. Both women are also on the chicken-chopping committee. (The luncheon runs smoothly with a committee assigned for every task, from cooking chickens to dicing celery.)
While the luncheon's famous chicken salad and barbecue plates remain consistently popular, the bake sale has risen in prominence.
"The bake sale has kind of exploded," said Helen. "People are literally lining up for it." Chase, she added, is a great dessert cook, having inherited her grandmothers' cooking genes.
It's no surprise that Chase is contributing to the luncheon and sale; for most of her life, she's watched her mother do the same.
"My earliest memories of it are my mom cooking chicken salad up at the church with her group of friends called the Monks," said Chase. "I remember them doing it since I was a little girl." When she was old enough, Chase took her place in the ranks. One might not think chopping chickens is something to look forward to, but Chase said, "We go in there with my mom's friends, who are kind of like my godmothers; it's a time for us to all catch up and laugh."
The camaraderie and cooperation of volunteers is integral to the seamless continuation of this event that benefits local ECW ministries including Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen, Columbus-Lowndes Habitat for Humanity, Hearts After School Tutoring and Helping Hands. A portion of the funds also supports relief efforts and medical missions in Honduras.
It's an amazing volunteer effort, said current ECW president Jennet Lacey, an effort that links the past to the present a century and a half since its origins.
"When you read the recipes, you realize that there are so many hands who have (been involved)," Lacey said. "The recipes have stayed the same, but the hands have changed."
For the next two days committees will be busy with assignments such as cooking chicken, storing 80 dozen deviled eggs in big refrigerators, chopping 70 bunches of celery, making secret-recipe chicken salad dressing and much more. Tom Wolford and his crew will spend hours over barbecue cookers. Tables in the Parish Hall will be set with white linens and floral arrangements. The "takeout center" will stock up on to-go containers.
Takeout is "huge," but dining in is still a special experience, a respite from busy schedules and a chance to see friends, said Helen. "The linens and flowers are beautiful, and it doesn't take long. You could be in and out in 30 minutes if you needed to."
Friday's luncheon, bake sale and takeout hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 318 College St. Cost per plate is $10. Chicken salad plates include stuffed eggs, crackers, sweet pickles and dessert. Barbecue plates include potato salad, stuffed eggs, dill pickles, roll and dessert.
Takeout orders will be accepted by phone or email today until 5 p.m., Thursday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday from 8-10 a.m. Call the church office at 662-328-6673 or 662-240-0187, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, number and type of plates you would like (chicken salad or barbecue), time of pickup and a contact phone number.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.