43rd annual Free Thanksgiving Dinner tradition continues


BRATTLEBORO — The 43rd annual free Thanksgiving Dinner celebration will be held at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden at 157 Main St. on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26, from noon to 5 p.m.

"It's a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings," said event organizer, Ray Branagan in a recent press release.

This is a free-of-charge buffet-style dinner where all are welcome to enjoy live music, community company and a prepared meal. This is the third year that the Strolling of the Heifers Live will co-sponsor the event and music will be performed by Jay Cook, Vibrant Ensemble, Breeze Verdant, Michael Hertz, Franz Robert and Kathy Martin.

"We feel that Thanksgiving has gotten swallowed up by many other holidays," said Daniel Kasnitz. "It's an essential holiday, and its intent is great — to meet and be thankful for our friends and community."

The event began at the original Common Grounds restaurant in Brattleboro and has since moved to the River Garden. Regardless of the location, the Brattleboro community and beyond have been served during this holiday event for decades.

"It's a magical event," said volunteer coordinator, Alyse Landis in a recent press release. "Being a part of it is so rewarding."

Despite the hype of the event, there is still a need for volunteers. Some of the opportunities to assist include table crew, servers, set-up and clean-up crews, runners, delivery people, kitchen help and those who can cook turkeys. Help is needed both Wednesday before Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving Day.

"This is a true locavore experience, as so much of the food comes from local growers and suppliers," said Branagan in a press release.

Free meals can also be delivered Thursday to those who can not reach River Garden during the annual celebration. Those who would like a meal delivered should contact Peter Wiles at (802) 254-4687 or pmw349@gmail.com.

According to Kasnitz there is a definite need for drivers as they have about 30 preregistered meals. He also pressed the need for Wednesday prep help. Branagan, who has been coordinating the event since its time at the Common Ground, said he often sees a need for volunteers during clean-up hours. Anyone who is interested in volunteering should contact Landis at alyse.m.landis@gmail.com or 802-380-5152.

Financial contributions are also welcome. They can be sent to the Brattleboro Community Free Annual Thanksgiving Dinner c/o Katherine Barratt, PO Box 2384,West Brattleboro, 05303.

"It has nothing to do with need, except for the fundamental draw of companionship. It does serve specific needs, but most importantly, it's about being with the community," said Kasnitz.

Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext. 275


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