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Annual Feast of Joy celebrates 20 years next Monday

Contributed • Nov 27, 2018 at 10:16 PM

ELIZABETHTON _ The Annual Feast of Joy Christmas Dinner will be celebrating its 20th anniversary of providing a unique dining experience while raising funds for The Shepherd’s Inn Safe House/Emergency Shelter.

This year’s event will take place Monday, Dec. 3, at First Baptist Church. A limited number of tickets are still available.

“This Christmas celebration has become a tradition for our community” said Paul Gabinet, shelter executive director.

“Throughout the year, people will stop me and share how this event starts their annual Christmas celebration. Even though many have come to the dinner since its beginning, they still ‘oooh,’ ‘ahhh,’ and applaud when the butler announces …. “Ladies and Gentlemen, dinner is now being served.” Gabinet said.

When the dinner began in 1998, the Mountain Empire Culinary Federation prepared the meal. Chef Eric Hoglund is the former executive chef of the Johnson City Country Club and past president of the Culinary Federation. He continues to be a part of the tradtion, as he will prepare the meal.

“Chef Eric has been so faithful and brings his culinary talents to the Christmas Dinner each year. Returning guests compliment the incredible meal prepared by Chef Eric,” Gabinet said.

Prior to the meal, guests are treated to the wassail and hors d'oeuvres that are provided by the restaurants throughout the Elizabethton community. Gabinet said many restaurants have contributed their finest pre-dinner treats since the beginning of the Feast of Joy.

“This wonderful food and entertainment has been mainly held at First Baptist Church in Elizabethton,” Gabinet said. “This wonderful church has been faithful to this dinner and to the shelter. They permit us to use the entire building, which is an amazing facility with a professional kitchen.

“The church is always incredibly decorated with taste and a genuine feel of welcome. How blessed we have been to be associated and supported by this wonderfully caring congregation.”

For the entire 20 years of this Christmas dinner, Carter County 4-H students have served the meal.

“Again, these amazing young people have connected with our guests in such a positive manner. Some of these 4-H students continue to contribute helping with the dinner many years since serving as a server. Lacey Turbyfill, Lucas Hitechew, and Jim Cates continue to participate with each dinner.”

Hitechew has been the Butler for 10 years and Cates continues to provide lots of laughs with the evening’s guests. Turbyfill helps with much of the organization and preparation for this annual dinner.

“We are thankful to have the support of each of these students and those who are now adults.” Gabinet said.

The theme for this year’s event is: “Christmas Sparkle.” Entertainment will include keyboardist David Arney, who has played for more than a decade for the dinner. The featured entertainers will be The Appalachian Express Chorus under the direction of Mark Kettner.

Reservations for the dinner can be made by calling 423-543-1931.

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