OAKLAND — About 1,300 people are expected to get warm meals delivered to them or go to Messalonskee High School on Thursday as part of the annual Messalonskee Thanksgiving Day Community Meal.

Volunteers will be preparing about 50 turkeys along with side dishes of mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls, stuffing and homemade pies for one of the region’s largest such holiday gatherings.

The dinner, now in its 29th year, was started by Bud King, former owner of Bud’s Store in Oakland, and his family still buys most of the food for the meal, said Mike Perkins, a longtime organizer of the dinner and chairman of the Oakland Town Council.

The community meal starts at 11 a.m. Thursday and usually wraps up by around 1 p.m.

“After 1 there will be nothing left,” Perkins said. “We run into that problem every year. We feed a lot of people, and some want to take meals for those who are left at home.”

The dinner is open to the public. Those who are interested in having meals delivered can call the Turkey Hotline at 465-6366.

“It’s great to see people come in,” Perkins said. “The stories go on and on from different people who say they could buy all the meals they want, but there’s no one at home to have a meal with. They come and sit and talk with people. All the kids are running around. It’s just a good kickoff to the holiday season.”

The Messalonskee meal is one of several free community dinners that will be held Thanksgiving Day in central Maine. Others include:

• Augusta Valley Scottish Rite Masons free Thanksgiving dinner, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gardiner Area High School, 40 West Hill Road, Gardiner. For delivery, call Kevin Campbell at 504-3073.

• Green Street United Methodist Church Annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner, 11 a.m. at the fellowship hall, 13 Green St., Augusta.

• Le Club Calumet Thanksgiving dinner, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 334 West River Road, Augusta. For more information, call 623-8411, ext. 4417.

• Scottish Rite Masons of the Augusta Valley Thanksgiving dinner, 1 p.m. at Mt. Blue High School, 139 Seamon Rd., Farmington.

• Skowhegan Community Thanksgiving Dinner, 11 a.m. to noon at the Skowhegan Community Center, 39 Poulin Drive, Skowhegan. For reservations, transportation or home delivery (within 15 miles), call 474-6901.

• Winthrop Rotary Club free Thanksgiving Day dinner at the hall of St. Francis Xavier Church, 130 Route 133, Winthrop. For delivery, call 377-7228.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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