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Polka Mass draws a crowd

Cars were stretched down Highway 14 south of Perham during the time of the outdoor Polka Mass, which was attended by hundreds of people from all over the area. Kiowa Wieser-Matthews/Forum News Service

PERHAM, Minn. -- True to tradition, hundreds of people flocked to St. Lawrence Catholic Church this past weekend for the annual outdoor Polka Mass.

After a religious service filled with good humor and deeper meaning, the special festivities began. People enjoyed polka music all afternoon on Sunday, along with bingo games, silent auctions, Bible trivia, and fun family games like water balloon baseball.

The Polka Mass took place on the forested grounds of the church, at an outdoor altar erected specifically for this once-a-year special service.

Music was provided by polka-playing veterans Cathy Erickson, Mary Jo Sturman and Frank Olson, who did not disappoint. The sermon was delivered by Father George Michael, the priest of both St. Lawrence, which is located near Rush Lake south of Perham, and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dent.

Cooks and kitchen staff worked tirelessly throughout the day to provide the crowd with good eats.

The Polka Mass has taken place every year for the past 27 years, and “kitchen master” Jim Guck has been with the event the whole time.

Guck is much beloved by his ‘staff’ of volunteers. At one point during the festivities, a volunteer came back requesting more coleslaw, and before Guck could even lift a finger, three of his helpers jumped up and yelled, “I got it!”

That kind of help is great to have, as cooking for hundreds of people isn’t easy. According to Guck, it takes about three days to prepare enough food to feed so many people.

This was Guck’s first year alone at the helm: he and his wife, Rose, had cooked side-by-side at the Polka Mass for the last 26 years. After she passed away last summer, Guck started thinking about stepping down from his position as kitchen master. He’s currently training in Barry Stewart as his replacement in that role; however, he plans to continue to help out with the Polka Mass in other ways in the future.

Kiowa Wieser-Matthews | Forum News Service

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