Sharon Sullivan & Tracy DvorakFree Press Staff Writers

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March 15, 2012
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Feed your corned beef craving on St. Patrick's Day

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -Your last name doesn't have to be Fitzgerald, O'Brien, Conlon or O'Shea to enjoy a dinner of corned beef and cabbage.Truth be told, corned beef and cabbage is actually an Irish-American invention which traces its beginnings to the mid-1800s when Irish settlers were making roots in America.Nevertheless, it's mouth-watering delicious, and a dish synonymous with our American celebration of St. Paddy's Day. One might say that St. Patrick's Day without corned beef is like an Irishman without a sense of humor.In the valley, three corned beef feasts fundraisers (that we know of) are planned for Saturday, March 17. Sure corned beef is being served at many establishments this weekend around town, but the three feasts spotlighted below are events to raise money for charity.FRUITA UNITED METHODIST WOMEN Maggie won't be chasing Jiggs around with a rolling pin as in past years, but the Fruita United Methodist women will cook as they've done for the past 80 years to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.The traditional corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew dinner was named decades ago for characters Jiggs and Maggie in the comic strip "Bringing Up Father" about an Irish immigrant and his rolling pin-wielding wife Maggie. Years ago, people would dress up like Maggie and Jiggs to entertain people dining at the church fundraising dinner, said Barbara Nichols, a member of the United Methodist Women.Nichols, 77, will arrive to the church early Saturday morning to help other church women cut vegetables, peel potatoes, brown the meat and begin roasting the food for that evening's Irish meal. Nichols has participated in the annual Irish feast since the 1960s, after she moved to Fruita from Grand Junction. Ruth Farley, 80, retired from heading up the event this year, after doing so for the past 18 years. There's a lot of work involved feeding the 175 to 200 people who typically come, Farley said.For years, Tommy Combs corned the beef at Walton's Market, which he owned in Fruita with his wife, Elsie.The meal also includes homemade cornbread and biscuits, an assortment of pies - mostly homemade - and coffee and punch. "It's all made fresh. It's really good food," Nichols said. "We've had a lot of compliments over the years."It's a fundraiser for the Fruita United Methodist Women, who belong to the larger United Methodist Women - a faith organization whose mission is to foster spiritual growth, develop leaders and advocate for justice. The Fruita church women's group raises money for various groups such as Agape Food Basket in Fruita and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program that distributes free books to young children. The Fruita group also contributes to the UMW, the largest denominational faith organization whose members raise money for programs and projects related to women, children and youth in the United States and in more than 100 countries worldwide.The 80th annual Maggie and Jiggs corned beef & cabbage and Irish stew dinner takes place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 17 at Fruita United Methodist Church, 405 E. Aspen Ave. Cost is $8/adults and $5/children under 12.New for this year's Irish meal fundraiser is the availability of take-out; call ahead to 970-213-8038.VFW POST 4663 LADIES AUXILIARYThe ladies auxiliary of VFW Post 4663 in Clifton is holding a corned beef and cabbage dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at the post located at 3244 F 1/4 Road. Cost is $7 for adults and $4 for ages 6 to 12. Ages 5 and under eat for free. The public is invited. Proceeds will go to veterans and active duty patients who have sustained traumatic brain injury in combat.FRUITVALE LIONS CLUBDon't toil away with the pressure cooker Saturday; head over to the Fruitvale Lions Club's third annual St. Patrick's Day Corned Beef & Cabbage Supper fundraiser from 4-7 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at Clifton Community Hall, 126 Second St.For $6, guests will get a plate full of corned beef along with cooked cabbage and potatoes. Children under age 5 eat for free. Coffee and lemonade come with the meal. Soda pop and dessert will be offered for a small charge.In addition, the Lions will hold a traditional cake raffle with plenty of chances and great odds to take home a sheet cake and/or other prizes.Proceeds from the event will go toward Lions Club causes such as Kids Sight, the Lions Eye Bank, the Boy Scouts, and more.

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 15, 2012 09:30PM Published Mar 15, 2012 09:29PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.