INMAN — It takes a village — or, in this case, the town of Inman — to put on the annual Ground Hog Feed, an event that feeds hundreds of people in a room that only holds 40.
St. Peter's United Church of Christ will host the 76th annual Ground Hog Feed from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 5, a few days after Groundhog Day.
The meal will be served in the fellowship hall of its building, located at the corner of Harvey and Pine streets in Inman.
"It's not a small undertaking," said Pastor Dennis Ureche.
Ureche estimated that last year's Ground Hog Feed drew in between 800 and 900 people, who must eat in shifts.
"It's a time of fellowship. You gather with your friends and your neighbors," Ureche said. "We've had people calling the church since the beginning of the year, wanting to know when it is."
The meal that is served includes sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet corn, rolls with butter, pickles and pie — all secondary to the main entree of homemade German sausage.
Volunteers prepare the sausage days in advance.
"We gather over at Canton Lockers the Wednesday before the dinner," Ureche said. "At 8 a.m., we start cutting and mixing and grinding."
The blend of spices that goes into the sausage is a closely-guarded secret.
"I don't even know what it is," Ureche said.
With many hands making light work, it takes around four hours to complete the job.
"We will process about 1,400 pounds of boneless pork butt to make the sausage," Ureche said.
One-pound packages of the sausages are also available for sale at the Ground Hog Feed.
"I usually buy about 10 pounds for myself because I like to put it in chili," Ureche said. "It's good for breakfast, too."
The money raised from the event is used to fund efforts such as Kansas Honor Flights, Inman High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes and food pantries.
"We make donations to mission projects throughout the community and the state," Ureche said.
The Ground Hog Feed takes more volunteers than there are members of St. Peter's United Church of Christ, so other Inman residents join in the work.
"If it wasn't for the community, we wouldn't be able to pull it off anymore," Ureche said.
It takes around 75 people to handle the tasks of making sausage, cooking the meal and serving it to attendees.
"They get it done, which is why we feel it's important to return the money to the community," Ureche said.
Tickets for the Ground Hog Feed are $11 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-12 and free for children age 4 or younger.
For additional information about the Ground Hog Feed, or questions about handicap assistance, contact the church office at 620-585-2627 or visit http://www.stpetersuccinmankansas.org.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.