≡ Menu

Dinner on the Ground – The Innkeeper’s Recollections


‘Bet you never even heard of Dinner on the Ground. Sadly, it has been called a fading tradition. It seems these days I look up and things I thought would always be there are gone or leaving.  Dinner on the Ground is one of them.

But for now they are still with us.  For many years it has been the tradition of southern, country churches to have a week-long revival that ended on Sunday with a great celebration and homecoming.

Dinner on the Ground picnic in eastern NC | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com/church-picnic-in-eastern-north-carolina/

Dinner on the Ground in eastern NC

Folks came from everywhere for this big feast.  Dinner on the Ground only happens in the fall and often we attended several special events throughout Eastern North Carolina:  Macedonia, Piney Grove, Maple Grove and Smithwick’s Creek Primitive Baptist.

My favorite of the foods was fried peach jacks, and I knew right where to find them. Fannie H.* and Miss Mintie both made wonderful jacks. Miss Mintie’s daughter-in-law Charlotte, keeps up the tradition.

One year someone actually made homemade moon pies. You could find collard greens galore, Brunswick stew, cornbread, fried chicken, banana sandwiches (for the children), sweet potato pies, barbecue, succotash, all kinds of pickles and more cakes than have ever been in one place. Lots of sweet tea is always served.

Deviled Egg plate at Dinner on the grounds | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com/church-picnic-in-eastern-north-carolina/

Every southern belle has a deviled egg dish

There will be much declaring and reckoning as in “I declare it is hot and I reckon it was cooler last year.”  “Bless his heart” will be heard many times.

After church is over folks rush out and spread the feast on a table made of chicken wire that is strung between tall oak trees. If the trees aren’t positioned just right, then a tractor will do just fine. There are often two or three tables made of chicken wire that are each a block long. Every family spreads a tablecloth over a spot (same spot every year) and puts the food out. Then folks graze up and down the table, visiting and eating.

 Johnny Gurkin enjoying the dinner on ground at Macedonia Church in eastern NC | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com/church-picnic-in-eastern-north-carolina/

Ops enjoying the food at dinner on the Ground

I am glad to have enjoyed these wonderful events. I am also happy to live in the “country” where we love and linger with our traditions. The church of my youth still has Dinner on the Ground; and for that I am very happy.

All of the photos were taken at the same church, almost sixty years apart. Photo at right is my dad Ops, taken in 1948 or ’49, at Macedonia’s Dinner on the Ground, after all the food was taken away.

That is my mother Chloe loading the car. Photo below is my brother John and me (with the very short skirt). Maybe some traditions will stick around.

1950 Dinner on the Ground in eastern NC | Chloe & John, Dinner on the Ground, Williamston, NC | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com/church-picnic-in-eastern-north-carolina/

Brother John & Chloe Ann at Dinner on the Grounds 1950

(Photo credit: Barney Conway, Jr. for the color photos. I figure Barney’s dad took the old black and whites.)

Chloe Tuttle Big Mill Bed and Breakfast near Greenville NC

Big Mill Bed & Breakfast 252-792-8787

Follow Me

Chloe Tuttle

Eco-friendly innkeeper at Big Mill Bed & Breakfast
I am a farm girl who sailed the world, returned home to the family farm and opened Big Mill Bed and Breakfast. Join us for Business EXTENDED STAY or a quiet getaway 252-792-8787.
Follow Me

Latest posts by Chloe Tuttle (see all)

You Might Also Like

Citrus Party Punch Recipe Do you need an easy punch recipe for that special summer party? This great-tasting party punch is quick and easy to make and pretty - and you can d...
Fruit Stands and Pick-up Trucks In summer, folks flock to farmer's markets to get all those fresh fruits and vegetables. In small towns we grow our own and go to roadside stands. ...
Spiced Mulled Cider Recipe Hot, Spicy Apple Cider Warms the Heart A great way to welcome fall and the chill in the air is to make up some hot, spicy cider. If you live wher...
Homemade Eggnog Recipe – Yes, it is Safe! This EGGNOG Recipe is the best ever and it is made with real eggs.  Make this eggnog at least 2-3 weeks before you plan to imbibe. It doesn’t take ...
10 Shares
Share10
Email
Share
Tweet
Pin