Organizers of free Thanksgiving dinners in central Maine continue plans for the holidays, hoping the predicted snowy weather won’t hamper their efforts or prevent people from enjoying a Thanksgiving meal.

Forecasters are predicting snow beginning Wednesday and continuing into early Thursday, leaving 4 to 8 inches on the ground. A storm advisory was issued for 1 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m Thanksgiving day.

Turkey and all the fixings will be offered at several capital-area locations.

In Augusta, the Red Barn restaurant has teamed up with Green Street United Methodist Church for the second year in a row to offer free dinners to the community. Alicia Barnes, who is coordinating the drivers, said Tuesday that 250 dinners had been requested for delivery, and more people are expected to dine at The Red Barn on Riverside Drive.

“We have 17 teams of two drivers signed up to deliver,” Barnes said, adding that the transportation consists of SUVs or similar all-wheel-drive vehicles that usually work well in snow. She also said that Darling’s auto dealerships are lending two passenger vans to transport people between the church at Green St. and the restaurant at 455 Riverside Drive.

Barnes said deliveries to those who have registered for them will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, with the meal offered 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the restaurant.

In the Gardiner area, the Augusta Valley Scottish Rite Masons and “a tremendous group of volunteers who come every year,” according to Larry Perkins, are busy organizing both the meal offered 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at Gardiner Area High School as well as home delivery of about 400 meals.

Perkins said the event will go on even if it snows.

“The weather hasn’t stopped us before, and it’s been well over 20 years,” he said Tuesday.

Workers from that group cooked 18 turkeys, each more than 20 pounds, on Tuesday. Wednesday’s assignment is peeling more than 250 pounds of potatoes, rutabagas and squash, Perkins said.

He added that all the groups and organizations offering the free holiday meal coordinate deliveries with each other, with his group doing the bulk of them in Gardiner, West Gardiner, Hallowell, Farmingdale, Dresden and Richmond. The Red Barn and the church group largely cover Augusta and Manchester.

Mike Perkins, a volunteer and organizer with the annual Thanksgiving dinner at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, said his group will start cooking Wednesday morning for its annual meal. The well-known dinner, held 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving, involves 100 to 150 volunteers serving nearly 1,000 meals, both at the school and by delivery.

The Readfield United Methodist Church, 1546 Main St., also is offering a free Thanksgiving dinner 11 a.m to 5 p.m. Thursday with cribbage and other games offered on site throughout the day.

In Litchfield, the Litchfield Sportsmen’s Club is offering a free meal with musical accompaniment at 1 p.m. Thursday at the clubhouse on Hallowell Road. Dinner begins at 1 p.m.

Gary Leet, who is on the board of the sportsmen’s club, said Tuesday that 70 people attended last year, and he’s expecting more diners this year. That dinner is on no matter what the weather, he said. That group is not doing home delivery.

In Skowhegan, plans are still underway for the annual free Thanksgiving meal at the community center. The dinner, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be at the Skowhegan Community Center, 39 Poulin Drive.

Organizers say the meal will be served, even if it snows.

“We’re going to go through with it regardless,” said Tim Crockett, staff assistant at the center. Crockett said the organizers are hoping still to have their usual crowd of 125 to 150 people attending the meal.

Mike Perkins, a volunteer and organizer of one of the state’s biggest Thanksgiving dinners at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, said volunteers will start cooking Wednesday morning for the observance. The popular dinner, which marks its 25th anniversary on Thursday, will be held 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving and involves 100 to 150 volunteers serving nearly 1,000 meals, both at the school and by delivery.

Other community dinners to be held in central Maine include those in Norridgewock and Farmington.

A free Thanksgiving dinner is planned for noon to 3 p.m. at What’s For Supper on Main Street in Norridgewock. Dinner will be served every hour at the restaurant. For a reservation, call 634-2550 by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

In Farmington, a free dinner, sponsored by the Scottish Rite Masons of Augusta Valley, will be served until 1 p.m. at Mt. Blue High School.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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