Final Dutch Heritage Day Dinner/Dance set for April 13 in Chesterville

Vince Zandbelt looks on as Dini VanDelst (centre) and another woman sing the Dutch national anthem at the 2018 Dutch Heritage Day Dinner/Dance. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

An annual tradition for 15 years, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chesterville

CHESTERVILLE — Be they clad in regular or wooden shoes — aka klompen — partygoers’ feet will move to a metaphorical Dutch beat April 13 at the Chesterville Legion.

Attendees at the 15th annual (and likely final) Dutch Heritage Day Dinner/Dance can also count on being well fed before DJ Jamie Shadbolt cues up the tunes 8 p.m. through midnight.

The ball begins when the doors open at 5:30 p.m. — make that bitterballen — a deep-fried spherical Dutch treat to be served among the hors d’oeuvres as the evening gets underway.

Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m., with roast pork, turkey, potatoes, gravy, veggies, red cabbage, coleslaw, desserts and pie served up by volunteers from Christ Church United.

Established to show appreciation and acknowledge the positive impact of this area’s Dutch-Canadian community — largely arriving after the Second World War — the dinner is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chesterville.

“Without them [the Dutch immigrant families] we wouldn’t be functioning here in the United Counties,” Ruth Gilroy, spearhead of the event since it began, explained prior to last year’s edition. It was during Gilroy’s term as Club president that she proposed the special evening, back in 2005, as a way of holding a locally significant occasion coinciding with Rotary International’s 100th anniversary.

This year is likely to be the last for the event as Gilroy and other organizers have decided to bow out after this one. (It doesn’t preclude some other committee or group coming forward to take up the mantle, though, something Gilroy says she would welcome.)

Funds raised go to Ryan’s Well Foundation. The cause is close to Gilroy’s heart as she’s known the founder of that organization, Ryan Hreljac, for years. In 2006, she invited the then-14-year-old Kemptville native to address the local Rotarians about his burgeoning initiative that had even attracted the attention of Oprah Winfrey.

Hreljac will be back in Chesterville as a featured presenter at the April 13 Dutch Heritage Day Dinner/Dance. Former North Dundas mayor and current federal Conservative candidate Eric Duncan has also been tapped to speak that evening.

Of course, the Legion Hall will be decked out in Dutch colours and heraldry while a slide show of the Netherlands will play on a big screen for the anticipated crowd of 125 to 150 people.

Tickets are $30 apiece: Contact Ruth Gilroy (613-448-2130) or Martin Derks (613-448-3256).

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