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Turkeys sizzle at Legion’s annual Thanksgiving community dinner

Volunteers dished up over 100 Thanksgiving meals at the Bonnyville Legion’s fourth annual Turkey Blast Challenge and Community Dinner.

BONNYVILLE — The Bonnyville Royal Canadian Legion hosted its fourth annual Turkey Blast and Community Dinner on Oct. 9, serving up over 100 plates of turkey dinner. 

Starting before the community dinner began, three taste testers were tasked with the challenge of ranking 15 turkeys. Several more were also donated to the league by community partners, businesses and organizations. 

Judges sampled turkeys cooked and seasoned in a variety of ways, including deep-fried, barbecued and even one made in an infrared cooker. 

Judging the holiday birds for the Legion’s cook-off was Jim Martineau, Herve Soucy and Rollie Inman. 

For Martineau, the turkey cook-off was not his first time judging a food competition, but he said the turkey was a nice twist. 

“After eating all these turkeys, we may need a forklift to be moved out,” he joked to his fellow judges as they moved onto their fifth plate.  

The turkey claiming first place was prepared and brined by the Legion Riders. In second place was the turkey from A-Ok Shoes and Key Men’s Apparel. The turkey that tasters determined was the third best was prepared by the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets. 

Although they winners don’t receive any prizes for coming in the top three, they do get the bragging rights and the honour of knowing they cooked the top tasting turkey for the year, said Ralph Alexander, the vice president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 183. 

The cook-off was incorporated into the event because everyone likes a little competition, said Alexander.  

“They all have their own little recipes,” he said. “Some do up their own blend, some inject their turkeys, but they’re all a little secretive about it.” 

The annual event is also a way for the Legion and its volunteers to give back to the community and allows individuals and families to gather and share an economical Thanksgiving meal, added Alexander.  

Those who attended were asked to contribute what they could, as either a cash donation, which will go toward local Christmas hampers, or an unwrapped gift for the Bonnyville Centralized High School’s Santa’s Elves Program.  

The Turkey Blast and other events are put on “to support the community and give donations. That's what we work all year for,” said Alexander. “That’s what we are here for and that is what we enjoy doing.” 

The remaining food from the community dinner was donated to the Bonnyville Men’s Homeless Shelter, similarly to last year’s leftovers. 

Last year, the Legion dished out about 100 meals, which had been slightly scaled back from pre-pandemic volumes, but numbers have stayed fairly consistent. 

Opting to adhere to the province’s Restriction Exemption Program, the Legion still served up 104 meals throughout the evening. 

Jazmin Tremblay

About the Author: Jazmin Tremblay

Jazmin completed a minor in journalism at Hanze University in the Netherlands and completed her Communication Studies degree from MacEwan University with a major in journalism.
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