Western chow, entertainment for good cause

Whether it’s date night or an evening to socialize with family or friends, the Mid-Columbia Senior Center is the place to be Friday evening.

“It’s a fall shindig,” said Ashley Lauterbach, one of the organizers and assistant director of The Dalles Meals on Wheels.

The fifth annual Baby Back Rib Dinner, on Oct. 7 from 4:30 to 7 p.m., offers not only a heaping plate of western chow, but entertainment and the opportunity to win a door prize or custom gift basket filled with “a little bit of everything.”

Hardshell Harmony performs acoustic traditional, high energy bluegrass music for the event, which is a benefit for the senior center and meals program. “This is the only joint fundraiser the two organizations do together,” said Lauterbach.

Cost for the meal and entertainment at the senior center, 1112 West Ninth Street, is $15 per person, with children under 12 at half-price.

The Springs at Mill Creek covers the cost of the dinner and music and labor is provided by volunteers, which allows the two nonprofits to split the proceeds, said Ron Sutherland, an organizer and member of the senior center board.

Lauterbach promises that no one will leave the table hungry at the dinner, which features ribs cooked with a “secret recipe” that makes them extra tender and tasty.

She said dinner also includes coleslaw, parmesan garlic bread and a baked potato with all the trimmings.

There will also be dessert and a variety of beverages.

Wine and beer will be available for purchase.

“It’s kind of a festive, holiday-type atmosphere,” said Lauterbach.

Tickets for the dinner can be purchased in advance from the senior center or at Klindt’s Booksellers, 315 East Second St. They will also be sold at the door.

Sutherland said about 370 people attended last year’s event, which generated several thousand dollars of profit.

He said donations from community members and area businesses play a vital role in keeping the center open to provide activities for older citizens in the area.

The annual cost to join the senior center is $35 per person or $50 per couple.

The organization currently has about 400 members and one full-time staffer, operating on a $100,000 annual budget.

Lauterbach said a grant from United Way of the Columbia Gorge each year helps flesh out the Meals on Wheels budget enough to support three full-time and two part-time staffers.

The organization rents kitchen space at the center to prepare about 45,000 congregate and home-delivered lunches each year, with an annual budget of about $250,000.

A lunch is available each weekday for $3.75 for those over 50 and $5.50 for younger folks.

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