To the Editor:

For the 29th time, the Drury Tankersley Clam Chowder Dinner presented by Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum (MCARLM) has come and gone. Once again, I had the wonderful opportunity to help both behind the scenes and on the actual day and into the evening of the Jan. 26 event.

Granted, this is just one of the many community dinners served in our familiar Orradre building at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds in our beloved hometown, but it is precisely these types of fundraisers that remind me what I love about King City.

With the onset of the dread Covid, these types of events ceased for a brief time and eventually became takeout only. Many clubs have continued with the takeout venue, after all it is easier and perhaps more revenue generating. We did takeout one year following the ban on sit-down events. Can I tell you how grateful I am that we returned once again to the tradition of a sit-down fundraiser and why?

Recently, a member of one of the original families that started this event stopped by my house to drop off some items from our dinner. As we stood outdoors reminiscing about the history of the event, I came to realize just how special it is to not only our community, but to those who founded it and to MCARLM.

In the beginning, 29 years ago, the founding families grew and canned all the tomatoes for the chowder. Nothing came from cans or the shelves of the local grocery store. This included a long history of only homemade pies. Along with the homemade chowder, the pies may have been the signature treat for the event.

Years passed and the event planners dwindled to a few heroic folks in the trenches, and they were not getting any younger. It was at this point that the annual fundraiser was offered to MCARLM in 1995. He talked about how over time this event has evolved into a family reunion. His eyes teared up as he spoke about his grandchildren and now great-grandchildren that can’t wait for the clam chowder feed and how it has become an honored tradition.

The work they do behind the scenes in preparation for the event goes on for days and everyone of all ages helps. Likewise, with the MCARLM members and multiple community volunteers. This is precisely what makes this annual fundraising event so special. It is not so much about the dinner, which is always superb, but about the camaraderie, the fellowship and the coming together of community members across all ages for a just cause.

We could go back to only takeout, but think of what could be missed by not sitting down next to your neighbor or someone across town that you rarely visit with. A little hard work goes a long way in our hometown, and nobody does it better than the MCARLM clam chowder feed.

Raye Ann Houx
Founding Member, MCARLM


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