The Lemont Village Association is set to host its 16th annual Gourmet Granary Dinner on Sept. 14 at the historic Thompson Granary.
Built in 1885, the Granary, as a recognizable historic landmark in Lemont, has long been a special project for the Lemont Village Association, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and preserving the community.
“Twenty years ago, (the Lemont Village Association) bought the property,” said Susan Smith, Lemont Village Association board chairwoman. “First thing, we had to clean it out; it was totally full. … It had boats and refrigerators and stoves and 20 tons of stuff. … Then we had to make it square. It was titled, the whole building slanted 12 inches.”
A local contractor donated roofing for the Thompson Granary building, which includes both the grain elevator and the attached coal shed.
“(The Granary) was used very intensely from the time it was built until the mid-’70s. Farmers brought grain from around Centre County, it was weighed on a scale outside the building and it went down a shoot into a big bin and up an elevator, three stories …(In) the coal shed part of it … trains came into the building,” Smith said. “They backed up, the cars full of coal. Then the coal went down through the floor into the stone bins. And people came from all over to buy coal. So it was an exchange. I have heard that in its heyday, there were 300 train cars a week. It was a big deal.”
The Lemont Village Association has slowly been restoring the Granary building over the years, with still more projects to come. The fundraising Gourmet Granary Dinner is one of the primary events the association hosts in the building each year, alongside the Lemont German Christmas Market. The space can also be rented for private events such as weddings.
The historic setting, Smith notes, is one of the prime aspects of the annual Gourmet Granary Dinner that attendees enjoy and continuously come back for year after year. The limited seating dinner features a different theme each occasion. This year’s theme, chosen by long-time caterer for the event Chef Erin Condo of Ecovents, is “Cuisine from the Interior of Mexico.”
“This Mexican menu is amazing,” Smith said. “Erin does a really good job. Her appetizers are exceptional.”
The six-course menu starts off with antojitos, or “little cravings,” including a salsa bar and empanadas, and is followed by a tortilla, quinoa and poblano soup; a selection of salads, such as a mango salad with cilantro, coconut and chile powder; vegetable sides; entrees like barbacoa tofu or barbacoa smoked beef; and grilled peach pie for dessert. Vegan options are available.
In addition to the scrumptious dinner menu, the event also offers a host of beverages. Elk Creek Cafe donates a selection of beers to the event, while Big Spring Spirits donates Mexican cocktails and Cafe Lemont donates the after-dinner coffee. Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery provides a selection of wines.
Community members interested in attending the event, at 6:30 p.m., should reserve their spot quickly. Seating is limited; tickets are $85 per attendee, with $50 per ticket considered a tax-deductible contribution. All proceeds above food costs benefit the Thompson Granary rehabilitation project. To reserve your seat, contact Smith at 238-1288; payments are required via check.