Hamline Church Dining Hall asking for donations to replace ovens at Fair

- Just two weeks from the start of the Minnesota State Fair, the Hamline Church Dining Hall is reaching out to the community asking for help to raise money for new kitchen equipment. 

The Hamline Church Dining Hall is a Minnesota State Fair institution. 

“Quite a tradition, and we kind of pride ourselves on radical hospitality,” said Mark Krueger, Hamline Church Dining Hall co-chair.

The Hamline Church Dining Hall has been cooking up comfort food at the Fair for 120 years - going on 121. 

“We can have a line that goes out our door, and around the corner down the street - and it just keeps moving,” said Erik Hendrickson, Hamline Church Dining Hall chef. “It’s an endless stream of people, and you can’t let it get you down. Just gotta keep cooking.”  

But in order to keep cooking, the church has to start replacing some of its old, worn, equipment. 

“I’ve been here 20 years, and [the equipment] was here when I arrived, and has been used hard ever since,” said Hendrickson.

The dishwasher was the first appliance to die. 

“If your dishwasher goes, you almost can’t keep the doors open, just for health concerns,” said Krueger.

Now, $30,000 later, the dining hall has a new replacement.

“We’re mighty proud of it,” said Krueger. “It looks very much like our old dishwasher. Works the same, but it doesn’t have the same quirks.” 

Quirks that some of the old ovens have developed.

“This is quite a beast,” said Krueger. “It’s a durable gas stovetop. We use it for the stovetop. The oven doesn’t work.”

The oven doesn’t work, nor do the others beside it. With the help of the community, and donations, the dining hall is hoping to replace four ovens. The cost of one oven ranges from $4,000 to $8,000. 

“It gets a little more difficult every year when things just quit working,” said Hendrickson. “In the past, we’ve been able to make them work, but now were past that point.”

Hamline is now only one of two faith-based dining halls left at the fair. 

“Being able to offer all our guests this sense of community to all of our guests that come through out door,” said Krueger.

All of the Hamline Dining Hall’s proceeds go to various nonprofits and back to the church. To reach the Hamline Dining Hall’s GoFundMe page, click here.

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