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Hey there, dumplin': First Lutheran Church plans Potato Dumpling Dinner on March 31

Several hundred pounds of potatoes needed to be peeled by First Lutheran Church's inaugural Potato Dumpling Dinner in 2018. This year's event is scheduled for Sunday, March 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Submitted photo)1 / 5
Dave Johnson, left, and Dave Melgaard were all smiles as they helped prepare for last year's Potato Dumpling Dinner at First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes. The second annual event is set for March 31. (Submitted photo)2 / 5
The potato dumpling batter is poured from the mixing bowl into a storage container in preparation for First Lutheran Church's Potato Dumpling Dinner. The second annual event is set for next Sunday, March 31. (Submitted photo)3 / 5
the servers for First Lutheran Church's inaugural Potato Dumpling Dinner posed for this photo after the 2018 event. This year's dinner will take place on March 31. (Submitted photo)4 / 5
More than 400 people were served at First Lutheran Church's inaugural Potato Dumpling Dinner in 2018. The second annual event is planned for Sunday, March 31. (Submitted photo)5 / 5

Fresh, homemade potato dumplings, prepared on-site in the church kitchens: That is the featured attraction at First Lutheran Church's 2nd Annual Potato Dumpling Dinner, which is set to take place this coming Sunday, March 31 in the church dining room.

Ham, baked potatoes (for those who prefer them to dumplings), coleslaw, rolls and dessert will also be on the menu, along with a beverage — all at a cost of just $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-12, and free to all kids aged 4 and under. Serving is from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

So why potato dumplings? Shawn Nygaard, one of the organizers for the event, said he and a coworker had traveled to Flom every other Friday for several years to have potato dumplings at the cafe there.

"Butch and Carol Johnson, who operated the cafe, got to be friends of mine," Nygaard said, so when the congregation was thinking of ways to raise funds for upgrading the church's kitchen and dining room area, he proposed a potato dumpling dinner, and asked the Johnsons for some help in learning how to prepare them properly.

"Carol and Butch came and showed us how to make the dumplings — and also helped us out at the (2018) dinner," Nygaard said.

"They basically mentored us," said Dave Melgaard, another member of the planning committee for the event. "They're coming back for this year's dinner, and also supplying us with the potatoes."

Butch Johnson is known as "The Potato King of Flom," Melgaard added, noting that the Johnsons grew the potatoes themselves.

"We'll be peeling 350 pounds of potatoes on Saturday afternoon (March 30)," he said.

"Last year we served 401 individuals," Nygaard said. "This year we're preparing enough for 500, so come hungry!"

Each person who requests dumplings instead of the baked potatoes (the dinner comes with a choice of one or the other) will get two of them on their plate, he added.

"The dumplings are about the size of a baseball," Melgaard said, which means that a couple of them will fill a plate.

There will also be a choice of fixings. "If you want sauerkraut, onion butter, plain butter or syrup, we'll have you covered," said Nygaard.

"We've got 25 pounds of butter coming," Melgaard said, so there should be plenty for everyone.

In all, there will be a team of about 30-40 church volunteers involved in the planning, organizing, cooking, setting up tables, serving and cleanup.

"It's a team effort," said Nygaard. "Many hands make for light work, so we all pitch in and help to raise funds for the benefit of one day being able to remodel our kitchen."

First Lutheran Church is located at 912 Lake Ave., Detroit Lakes. For more information, please call 218-847-5656, or visit

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

(218) 844-1454