Cheers to turkey, family and friends | AspenTimes.com

Cheers to turkey, family and friends

Abby Margulis
Special to the Snowmass Sun

The snow began to fall like every year, and hundreds started to fill the Westin Snowmass Conference Center, bringing pumpkin pies, cookies, creamed corn, potato salad and empty bellies ready to feast upon their early Thanksgiving meal. The 23rd annual John Bemis Community Potluck Dinner took place Nov. 24, welcoming 400 Snowmass Villagers.

"It's the opening of the winter season," said Allison Campbell, conference service and catering manager at the Westin. "People don't see each other all year, and you see kids grow up. It's about saying 'hi' to the people you don't get to see during the year."

The evening brought people together to express their gratitude and blessings. It was time to spend with friends and neighbors, make new friends and come together as a community.

The potluck originally took place at the Snowmass Chapel, but the event kept growing each year and eventually outgrew the chapel. Community member John Bemis, who died in June 2012, didn't want to turn people away, so he found a way to keep it going in a new and bigger location. The potluck was named in Bemis' honor last year.

Sally Sparhawk has been coming to the potluck for more than 12 years and thanks Bemis for creating this "incredible community event."

"It's amazing what (John) did," Sparhawk said. "He pulled the town into it. He really single-handedly created the event."

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Once all the tables in the room were filled, the Rev. Robert de Wetter, senior chaplain at the Snowmass Chapel, gave the opening remarks.

"Snowmass is an incredible place to live," he said. "It's a community that's always helping each other out."

Before the lines for food could form, organizers Campbell and Caroline Gibson awarded three cooks $100 gift cards from Alpine Bank for the best salad, side dish and dessert. Ci Beasley took first for her autumn arugula salad, Elise Moyer's butternut squash tart won best side, and Kellie Smith's cheesecake took first in desserts.

It was an evening to enjoy what goes on in the Snowmass community, Mayor Bill Boineau said. "This is an evening I love and cherish."

The dinner and the Community Picnic in the summer are the two largest community events and have kept Jack Kennedy coming for the past 17 years.

"(These two events) are the most charismatic and community-spirited events we have," he said.

Abby Margulis is an editorial intern working at The Aspen Times. She is a junior at DePauw University in Indiana.