We live 4 miles from the Skookumchuck Grange, organized in 1915 and incorporated in 1947. Now that we're rural folk, and given we a) know so few of our neighbors and b) know even less about farming/raising cattle, we thought we'd check into the grange and what it's about. The fact that our local Ace Hardware has twice advertised grange events on their sign - neat events, a pit barbeque and a harvest dinner - we thought maybe we'd check into the grange and consider becoming members, and if nothing else, meet some other locals and see what information we could glean from them.
Yesterday Paul, his parents and I bought tickets for and attended the Harvest Dinner and Bazaar 2008. The parking lot was pretty full, which was good to see. We walked in and were confronted with the usual craft items, like candles and potholders, a table full of fresh tomatoes and things like that. There were very few people in the main hall, leading me to wonder what hole all the drivers of the cars outside had fallen into and whether they needed assistance.
Turns out they were all in the kitchen area, chowing down. The Grange members and local FFA kids served the food and beverages (coffee and fresh apple cider) to those of us who ponied up the $10 for tickets to sit at the long tables adorned with fresh (gorgeous!) dahlia blooms. The food was fantastic, and though I didn't ask, I'd presume it was all garden/farm fresh: corn on the cob, several fresh salads, homemade pickled beets, scalloped and mashed potatoes, roast, and several homemade pies.
I had some flashbacks of being the very youngest student in my Master Gardener class several years ago (where I was a good 15-20 years younger than the next youngest student, a weird place to be when you're in your early 20s) and wondered whether the Grange experience would be so similar as to creep me out. It seemed like that would be true, until I decided to ask someone else if any members present were cattle ranchers (there are three large beef ranches within a couple miles of our place). The gentlemen led Paul and I back to the kitchen and introduced us to two older Grange members, who we ended up talking to for quite a while. We ended up having a great time and came away from the Harvest Dinner knowing a few more people, feeling a little better about our lack of experience, and with an invitation to come back to the October meeting of the Grange tonight!
The jury's still out as to whether we'll join the Grange, but we'll check it out tonight and see what we think. The idea of meeting so many other people - even if they're as old as our grandparents - and building a community that way is very appealing.