“A ten out of ten event,” exclaimed one impressed attendee. Heavy rain and unexpected snow did not thwart the interest and passion of approximately 150 eager food enthusiasts in attending Sligo Church’s International Vegetarian Food Fayre, dubbed “Vegetarian Food From Around The World” and sponsored by the Homes of Hope Ministry. Community guests, who made up more than half of the attendees, came from as far afield as Columbia and Charlestown, West Virginia, having responded to personal invitations, social media, posters and radio ads. Organizers had in mind a three-pronged objective for this March 30 event – building relationship with the community, providing attendees with the knowhow to prepare healthful and tasty meat-free meals and introducing a new health course to members of the community. Even the most skeptical observer would agree that those objectives were well met.
“I have driven past this building for years but this is the first time I have come inside.” “I plan to visit again.” “When do your services begin?” “How often do you have an event like this?” These were some of the many statements made and questions asked by community guests. They provided the organizers with the assurance that the scores of hours spent in dreaming, planning, typing up recipes, cooking, setting up, decorating and praying were all worth it.
The Sligo Church fellowship space was transformed into what some described as a ‘top class restaurant ’ for the event. The tasty offerings, representing dishes from Asia, the Caribbean, India (an Asian category on its own), Italy, Latin America, the Middle East and the United States of America, were eagerly gobbled up by gastronomically-discerning guests. Portions were taste size but by the time guests had repeatedly been to every food station, they had had the equivalent of a full meal, complimented by a variety of lip-licking smoothies.
Not only were guests able to sample the mouth-watering dishes, they were also treated to several demonstrations of how those dishes were prepared as they were taken on a sizzling, bubbling and aroma-filled journey by seven ‘chefs’ and a smoothie connoisseur. Appreciative applause filled he atrium after each demonstration. One guest later requested the addresses of the restaurants that prepared the food for the occasion, expressing enormous surprise when he was told that the dishes were all prepared by ‘ordinary’ members and friends of Sligo church and that none of the demonstrators worked as a professional chef.
Guests left at the end of the afternoon with an enhanced appreciation of vegetarian food and how it is prepared, as well as an understanding of what Sligo Church is able to offer in the area of health and other areas of interest. In addition, several left laden with gifts which they had received and prizes won, ranging from books, gift baskets and a MagicBullett blender.
The glow on the faces of the organizers as they packed up and cleaned up at the end suggested that they were already thinking of a repeat performance next year and how to continue making Sligo Church a place that the public choose to enter and a house of prayer and praise for all people.
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Article by: Don McFarlane
Photos by: Michael McKinnis