The 54th annual spaghetti dinner is an event, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, of Branson, uses to promote community and good will.
The spaghetti dinner will be held Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Our Lady of the Lake Parish Center, located at 202 Vaughn Drive in Branson.
Duane Hertz is the chef and will be dishing out his original meat sauce recipe. Hertz worked in management for local restaurants for 20 years according to event organizer Joyce Arnold.
“We call him ‘chef for a day.’ That’s the name we give him here,” Arnold said. “He volunteers his time to do the church fundraiser.”
In addition to the main course, the meal will feature fresh-baked bread sticks along with a salad and choice of hundreds of what Arnold promises to be delicious desserts. Beverage choices include coffee, fresh-brewed iced tea or milk.
Tickets are $9 for adults and $5 for children age 6 to 12. Children 5 and under are free.
The Parish Center of the church has long served as a place for the community to come together, and Arnold said the annual spaghetti dinner highlights those efforts.
“Our goal as a parish is to serve the community,” Arnold said.
The spaghetti dinner, now in its 54th year, encompasses the tradition of Branson residents coming together to celebrate spring and prepare for another season.
“In Branson history, the work season used to be a six-month work season,” Arnold said, recalling that in the days before cell phones and social media, sometimes church members went a long time with no contact between one another.
This still happens to a degree with four masses conducted weekly at the church and, as Arnold explained, people get used to attending one mass on a regular schedule and don’t see those attending the other services.
“There are people I see two times a year,” Arnold said, noting the spaghetti dinner is one of those occasions, and the church’s fall gathering being the other.
Arnold said the spaghetti dinner is a celebration of coming back together as a community and to prepare for visitors to Branson.
Non-Catholics and visiting Catholics are welcome, too. Four years ago, two visiting Catholic ladies attended.
“We open the doors of our church to people,” Arnold said.
One thing that Arnold sees happening when people sit down at a table together is prayer.
“We have people sit at a table from all denominations praying together,” Arnold said.
For local members, Arnold said, the spaghetti dinner may be an opportunity to serve.
“We, as a parish, continue to work as a stewardship parish. Everyone has a gift that they can use,” Arnold said.
“As a stewardship parish, we love Jesus, share Jesus and serve Jesus, so this has been our goal,” Arnold said.
Funds raised by the dinner will be used to pay off the balance of what the church still owes on their kitchen renovation.
Renovations were completed in 2015 to update an aging facility that has hosted the Jesus Was Homeless annual Thanksgiving dinner, and other events.
As many as 320 people can be seated banquet-style at one time in the main hall, and Arnold anticipates as many as 1,000 people may be served.
The parish has a team of 170 volunteers who are involved in every step of the four- to six-week process, from printing tickets to carrying out the last bag of trash.
“We like to call them our intentional disciples. They are there because they want to be,” Arnold said.
The church is inviting people of the community to come together. The spaghetti dinner is
an open event and the public is invited.