Meatballs play a big part in the tradition of Iola’s annual Lutefisk Supper.
Over 300 pounds of meat is patted into balls to be served alongside the lutefisk and cod entrees which highlight the menu.
On the day before the Iola Winter Carnival, volunteers gathered at the Iola-Scandinavia High School to make the meatballs.
The job typically takes about two hours, depending on how many volunteers help.
On Friday, Feb. 1, the meat was moving fast, because several helpers arrived.
“I enjoy doing this,” said Dona Gjertson. “It’s fun and I gotta help a little bit.”
She does not recall when she started rolling meatballs.
“I’ve been helping many, many years,” Gjertson said.
Marge Wall said, “It’s good fellowship. We talk and get together with other people in the community.”
“I used to wait tables; now I sit and roll meatballs,” she added.
Wall started volunteering in 1982, when she and her husband built a house in the area.
They moved to Iola after retiring in 1986.
She talked about her brother-in-law, who had lived in Missouri and gone to the Winter Carnival every year.
Traditionally, the women roll the meatballs while the men take care of the kitchen, grinding the meat and cooking the meatballs.
“This is my 15th year supplying meat and water to the ladies and taking the rolled meatballs back to the kitchen,” said Terry Murphy. “I enjoy it more and more every year.”
One man joked, “If they fall on the floor, we eat them right away.”