Ladies' luncheon offers food, fellowship and fund-raising

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DeAnn Gonzalez and her coworkers always attend the annual salad luncheon held by a club of local lady golfers.

They walk up the street to the Elks Club, where the Yampa Valley Ladies Golf Association lays out a smorgasbord of salad dishes each year in the spring.

Gonzales said there's one salad in particular that can't be missed.

"We all have a favorite, and it's the chicken salad that has the red grapes," Gonzalez said.

It also has celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice and seasonings. It's the event's marquee dish.

"People love it. They really go for it," said Phyllis Virden, the association's president.

The ladies of the club make 60 pounds of the "club salad" and set it out in large dishes at the head of the line, near the plates, Virden said.

In her nine years at the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's office, Gonzalez doesn't remember missing the luncheon.

She and her colleagues are among the 350 expected guests at the 19th annual "Lettuce Feed You" luncheon. It's the main fund-raiser for the women of the Yampa Valley Ladies Golf Association.

In the past, they've used the money for improvements to the course and the clubhouse. They bought water coolers and an inclement weather shelter, glass tabletops for the clubhouse restaurant and golf ball washers.

"We buy a lot of the flowers for the course," Virden said.

Some of the money the club raises will be used for prize money at the club's summer tournament, called the Silver Bullet Golf Tournament. The club is also brainstorming ideas to encourage more female junior golfers to participate in the sport.

The club's 30-some active members will offer much more than the featured club salad. There will be pans of taco salad, fruit salads, as well as Jell-O and pasta dishes. About 20 dozen deviled eggs will fill a tray at the end of the buffet line, Virden said.

The ladies also will be selling a recipe book with instructions for many of the dishes featured at the luncheon. It's common for the guests to ask for the salad recipes, and this year the club will oblige, Virden said.

The now-famous club salad came from a family recipe that can be traced back to the late Minnie Belle Jordan. Jordan's daughter, Jill McCandless was a longtime member of the club before a bad knee forced her to withdraw.

McCandless said she grew up eating the salad, which the family referred to as "Mom's special chicken salad."

McCandless remembers the luncheon began when the ladies discussed how to raise money to decorate the clubhouse with curtains and table covers.

For 19 years, the tradition has continued, though McCandless remembers the club having many more members in days past.

This year, the luncheon will be held April 2 in the Elks Hall. The buffet lasts from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $7, and they're available from any association member or at American Northwest Reality. For more information, contact Phyllis Virden at 824-6403.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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