Ribs, rhythm and revelry

Wasco County residents are invited to throw on the cowboy duds and enjoy an evening of western food and entertainment to benefit two local nonprofit groups.

The fourth annual Baby Back Rib Dinner takes place Friday, Oct. 2, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center, 1112 West Ninth Street, in The Dalles.

Proceeds from the meal, raffle and silent auction will be split between the center and Meals on Wheels, which is providing the dinner that also includes coleslaw, parmesan garlic bread and a baked potato with all of the trimmings. Strawberry shortcake will be served for dessert and a variety of beverages offered.

Wine and beer will be available for purchase. Cost for the meal and musical entertainment by Hardshell Harmony is $15 per person, with children under the age of 12 at half-price.

“You won’t go away hungry, there’s really quite a lot,” said Ashley Lauterbach, assistant director of Meals on Wheels.

She declined to share the recipe that makes the ribs so tender.

“It’s a secret,” she said.

Tickets for the dinner can be purchased in advanced from the senior center or Klindt’s Booksellers in The Dalles, 315 East Second Street. They will also be sold at the door or arrangements can be made to have them delivered directly to your door.

“That’s my job, I’m the gopher,” said Ron Sutherland, a member of the senior center board.

He and Lauterbach hope the event generates at least $5,000-$7,000 for their respective programs.

The two groups work together to provide services for area senior citizens. The center operates on a $100,000 annual budget and the meals program on $250,000.

“We needed a fundraiser and you can only have so many cake raffles and bottle drives so we decided to have a dinner,” said Sutherland of the inaugural event that was popular enough to bring back the next three years.

“We’re two different organizations housed in one building and we do what we can to benefit seniors,” said Lauterbach.

Her group rents kitchen space at the center to prepare over 46,000 congregate and home-delivered meals each year.

The center has 400 members and is also visited by many other community members taking advantage of a variety of programs, including exercise classes, lectures to help people overcome aging challenges, entertainment and craft activities.

The Springs at Mill Creek as “wonderful and appreciated sponsors” donated funds to cover the dinner and music, said Sutherland.

Labor is being provided by volunteers and the workforce for the evening includes Wasco County Commissioners Steve Kramer and Rod Runyon, who will be taking on the role of bus boys.

“We are going to work ‘em,” promised Sutherland.

Lauterbach is also excited about the tables lining the edges of the dining room that will be full of donated auction items.

“We have some amazing things,” she said.

She and Sutherland say there will be lots of custom gift baskets, such as the “Wine and Dine” with both jewelry and vino.

The auction inventory includes: a lawnmower from Fun Country; two tickets to Silverwood Theme Park; wine classes for two couples at Total Wine &More in Vancouver; a night’s stay for two at the Balch Hotel in Dufur; kayak rentals from Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation; a cruise for two on the Portland Spirit; tickets to the Pittock Mansion in Portland; a massage at Water’s Edge.

In addition, there is a: glass pumpkin from Nichols Art Glass; dinner for two at Multnomah Falls; a month membership at The Dalles Fitness and Court Club; handcrafted items from the Wood family; a Mary Rowlands painting; and much more.

“We have just had amazing support,” said Lauterbach.

She said United Way provides Meals on Wheels with a large donation each year and other fundraisers, such as the dinner, help flesh out the budget to support three full-time staff and two part-timers.

“Without United Way, we couldn’t keep the doors open,” she said.

The cost to join the senior center is $35 per person or $50 for a couple. A lunch can be had each weekday at $3.75 for those over 60 and $5.50 for younger folks.

“We like to think of this not so much as a senior center but a community center,” said Sutherland.

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