The 100th Orio Chowder will be on Aug. 31; the chowder is always held on the Saturday of the Labor Day Weekend. Once again, we are making 1200 gallons of chowder, and will begin bulk chowder sales by 7:30 a.m. Please bring your own containers (other than glass).

Sandwiches will be available at 10 a.m. with the full serving line to open by 11 a.m. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, fries, corn dogs, bowls of chowder, tea, lemonade, coffee, and a selection of pie and cake slices will be available in the main stand.

Homemade jellies, baked goods, crafts, as well as a raffle of a beautiful quilt stitched by our own quilters will be available in the Country Store. Raffle tickets will be one for $5 or 6 for $20. Ice cream treats, soft drinks, and water are available adjacent to the Country Store. All prices remain the same as they have been for the past few years.

Special entertainment by the Fifth Street Revival Quartet members: (Rob Coleman, Jim Cox, Wayne Henegar, and Chris Quick) will be provided from 12:30 p.m.-2:00 p.m. in the Bliss Center. A video of past chowders, church events, and Orio people will be shown in the Community House during the day.

Our annual softball tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Interested teams may contact Mark Crummley at 618-263-8033. A volleyball tournament will be held at 9 a.m. with Audra Keepes as the contact person at 618-262-1033. Ryan Hipsher may be contacted at 618-240-0038 for the 11 a.m. washers contest. Scott Hipsher is the contact person at 618-838-9254 for the 1 p.m. horseshoes contest.

Orio is a small settlement located in Wabash County. The Chowder is located across from Wabash Presbyterian Church (11188 N. 2300 Blvd). The church sign is 3½ miles west of Allendale on Hwy 11 or 5.3 miles east of Lancaster. Plenty of regular and handicapped parking spaces are available. If you need assistance with your carryout, workers will be glad to transport you to your vehicle.

Please, no solicitations or dogs (other than service dogs) are to be on the grounds.

History

After the Wabash Cemetery Association was founded in 1920 by a group of determined ladies in the community who saw a need for an organization to provide funds to maintain the cemetery, Sarah Corrie Andrews is credited with the plan to hold a chowder as a yearly fundraiser. In the beginning years, the chowder was held east of the church in October. One or two kettles were used to make approximately 100-120 gallons of chowder. Families brought garden items, meat, sometimes macaroni or rice if vegetables were scare; preparation and cooking were done on the same day and the chowder was served in the late afternoon. People brought their own bowls and any other food to share. The servings cost 5 or 10 cents for small or larger quantities.

Years later a permanent chowder date was set for the Saturday of the Labor Day weekend upon the suggestion by Earl Corrie. In 1949 the Community House was built across the road from the church and was used as the chowder site. For years the chowder was served around noon, but the largest crowds were in the evening hours. Lights were strung over the picnic tables for the evening mealtime which continued until the soup was gone. In the 1960’s, small or large crockery bowls of chowder could be purchased.

Improvements in buildings used have been made throughout the years such as a shed over the kettles. Wood was used under the kettles for a number of years and the smell of wood smoke was synonymous with chowder day. We currently use propane for heating which is more consistent than wood heat. Though men still use wooden paddles to stir the chowder, a big part of the time we use automatic stirrers in the cooking process. The main serving line building, shelter house, and additional tents and seating capacity are the latest improvements.

In the 50’s and 60’s Prairie Farms would provide an ice cream trailer with the hand-dipped ice cream cones, which were always a big hit. In the late 50’s, Prairie Farms brought a little train (just like the one at Uncle John’s Kiddie Land in Vincennes in the 50’s). If the blue ribbon on the side of the ½ gallon of Prairie Farms milk was cut out, that was the free ticket to ride. Years later, there was a small merry-go-round for the little children; one year there were pony rides.

The number of gallons produced has gradually increased. As of 1972, 500 gallons of chowder were made. For a number of years up through 2017, we made 1150 gallons, and increased that to 1200 in 2018.