By Keith Fisher

Several years ago, I helped organize a Dutch oven gathering in Virgin, Utah. A friend of mine lived there, and he’d decided to hold a cook off in February. Our Dutch oven cooking group wanted to go south for the winter. We were tired of the weather, and it was the Olympics year. The warm weather and lack of tour buses appealed to us.

We helped the cook off by talking it up, and convincing many to enter. My friend helped us, by promoting the Dutch oven gathering we planned for the evening before. My resourceful friend persuaded the St George newspaper to run a story. Essentially it said there would be several Dutch oven cooks cooking at the resort and everyone is invited.

The article mentioned nothing about a potluck party. We wondered if it would matter. In an area the size of Virgin how many people would come anyway? On Friday afternoon, we started cooking our meals for the big potluck party. I don’t remember how many of us were cooking, or how many pots were going, but by the time the dinner bell rang, we had over two hundred-fifty people lined up to try some of the free Dutch oven food.

To this day, many of us still joke about feeding the five thousand. We wonder where we got the five loaves and three fishes. When it was over, many of the cooks had not eaten. We were stuck cleaning up in the dark and didn’t get a chance to eat what we had cooked.

Now, the purpose of our trip, other than the cook off the next morning, was to persuade the wonderful people of Southern Utah to become members of our club. We didn’t get them, The majority of the crowd was only interested in dinner, and we provided a good one. At least that’s what I heard. I ate a day old sandwich, but when you’re hungry, you don’t care.

When we packed up, it was somewhat difficult to find our own belongings. Everything was mixed with everything else. There were so many Dutch ovens it would’ve been hard to identify our own. Except most of us were smart. We had tagged out own Dutch ovens before hand.

Other than for identification, Tags are a great idea. They help with inventory when your hobby starts to get out of hand, they help you keep the lid and the pot together for a good match, and (depending on your originality) they showcase your coolness.

There are many kinds of tags that can be used successfully. Military dog tags are a popular solution. You can have them made in Army surplus stores. My dad, in his day, was a great metal fabricator and welder. He hand made tags with a ring welded permanently, to the lid handle and bail. I have seen a less bulky version of this attached with key rings.

When I started tagging mine, I used round brass key tags, scratched my initials into them and attached them with key rings. This worked fine for a couple of Dutch ovens, but after a while my scratchings faded. I got new tags and punched my initials along with a number. Now I can take inventory and know which pot is missing. Of course there is the issue of the removable key ring, but you can make it permanent with a drop of hot lead solder.
Use tags of some kind to personalize your Dutch ovens. Then if you ever feed five thousand, you will be ready. Just don’t use paper or plastic tags.

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1 comment:

Cindy Beck said...

Wow, what a story. If I ever need to feed 5,000 with loaves and fishes, I'm calling on you! :)

And I loved your last line, warning us not to use paper or plastic tags on our dutch ovens. Good thought! :)