Steamboat Springs The Christmas feast was not scheduled to start until 2:30 p.m., but people were already lining up at the community center for the smoked meats, hearty cheesecake and warm vegetable casseroles at 1:45 p.m.
At least 30 volunteers toiled to serve the 300 or more people expected to show up at the 10th annual Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Christmas Feast Tuesday. As she sliced the meat in the kitchen, Chris Sachs, a local Realtor and the organizer of this year's meal, handed juicy scraps to the volunteers.
"They're coming in waves," she said. "It's always like this."
The Realtors had 15 turkeys and six to eight hams donated by City Market and Safeway to dole out at the dinner, Sachs said. They also received some prime rib from a family.
Locals and tourists came to the meal, which lasted from 2:30 until 6:30 p.m. It was a typical Steamboat event, said one attendee.
"The reason it's essentially Steamboat is that you get people here from all walks of life coming together," said Gary Burman. "People that see each other only once a year see each other here."
Thelma Whitmer of North Routt said she thinks the Christmas meal is the best place to be if you can't be with your family and for many, it was a good place to take the family and warm up after a day of skiing. Whitmer, whose five children are all out of town, has lived in the valley for 75 years after coming here when she was 12 years old.
"I think this dinner is wonderful and it exemplifies the Christmas spirit of giving and sharing," Whitmer said. "It makes it seem like Christmas for me."
Santa made a big entrance into the dining hall at about 3 p.m., handing out presents to the kids.
Musicians accompanied the meal with a bluegrass Christmas medley, with Rick Philipp slapping spoons against his thigh and Brent Rowan strumming his guitar, along with a few others. Audience members couldn't help but tap their feet and nod their heads to the beat as they ate their food.
Sachs' 8-year-old daughter Camille was dressed up as an elf, picking up dirty plates in oversized elf shoes and ears. She said the elfing job is worth it because Santa pays her in presents.