The Steelville Presbyterian Church’s 90th Annual Groundhog Supper will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 2, in Roper Hall, which is in the church basement. All men and boys of the community are welcome.
This year’s guest speaker will be Glen Tutterow, artist of the Osage monument in Cuba. Admission is free, but an offering will be taken to benefit the Steelville Food Pantry. The menu will include the traditional oyster stew, bean soup, cornbread, drinks and pie.
The first Groundhog Supper was served in 1929. Uncle Sam Roper, then pastor of the Steelville Presbyterian Church, was teaching a Sunday School class of high school boys and they did not have an adequate classroom space so he came up with the idea of making one under the church, there being no basement at that time. Permission was granted by the Session and members of the class were asked to do the digging.
Some of those who worked on the project included Maurice Cape, Stanley Scott, David Bass, Davis Clymer, Tom and Eddie May, Harry Rhineberger, Fritz Peetz, J.T. Wilson, Vernon Palmer, William, Harry and Chub Cook, and Bill Volenetz. They removed a few of the large stones from the east foundation, dug with picks and shovels and wheeled out the soil out in a wheel barrow.
When the basement was finally completed, Roper announced that a supper should be held honoring the “ground hogs” who started the project. It was decided this should be a “Stag Party” (no ladies allowed), and the men would cook and serve the meal. It has remained only for men and boys since that time with a menu of groundhog, oyster stew and bean soup with crackers, always held on Groundhog’s Day.