St. Francis Steak and Ham Dinner History

In 1968, the parishioners of Roy’s St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church put on their first annual Steak Bourguignonne and baked ham dinner. Since then, a few things have changed, but a whole lot of deliciousness has remained the same.
That first dinner was held Sunday, March 24, 1968. The charge for adults was $1.75. Steak slightly outsold ham, with a total of 1,227 meals served and a profit of $1,600.30. For a number of years, the dinner was held each Lent on Laetare Sunday; by the mid-1980’s it was fixed to the second Sunday of March. After canceling in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 brought a move to the first Saturday of May.
A March 1, 1969, opinion column submitted to the Sentinel lauded parish dinners, including that at St. Francis:
"They’ve started it wisely, offering a choice of ham or steak. But I predict that in a year or so, after the word gets around, they’ll drop the ham. It’s the kind we call swiss, but they call it something French. Delicious! And that gravy!"
From the very beginning, diners enjoyed cake and strawberries for dessert. Until the 2010’s there was also an annual assortment of cakes by the dozens. Other items took time to perfect—salads weren’t topped with the current made-from-scratch French dressing until 1973. Original hours of noon to 6:00 PM were expanded to 11:30 AM to 6:00 PM.
Parish farmers donated milk, strawberries, and vegetables in the early years. And then there was 1976 when an industrious parishioner made and donated 4,000 dinner rolls. Many volunteers have taken the same jobs for years—decades of directing traffic, selling tickets, cutting cakes, or joining the cleaning crew.
Through the years the event has featured other popular fundraising. The first year featured a quilt raffle netting $110.75. Subsequent years featured raffles of many a quilt and other items. Various organizations sold religious articles—so many rosaries, prayer books, and First Communion veils. The 21 st century brought bazaars, and then an antique tractor show.
Thank you to all who have dined with us over the years. And to those of you who’ve only thought about it, make this the year!
1972 Dinner Ticket
1986 Dinner Flyer
1989 Dinner Ticket
2004 Dinner Flyer