More than 1,000 people enjoyed dinner together Sunday in downtown Northfield.

Northfield Shares a Dinner allowed community members to share a meal together at one long table.

The dinner was meant to celebrate the Northfield community, help residents meet new people, strengthen community ties and connect neighborhoods. The meal featured food grown by local farmers and prepared by local chefs. Art activities and entertainment featuring local artists and musicians were part of the event.

The idea was spearheaded by Northfielders Jennifer Sawyer, Jill Metz and Nancy Carlson. Planning took approximately one year. More than 200 volunteers participated in the event, along with more than 50 artists and musicians.

Maryellen Bowe, who attended the celebration with fellow Parkview West Senior Center residents, spoke highly of the event.

“It’s a special dinner,” she said. “And anytime there’s a special dinner, we’re for it. It’s wonderful.”

Northfielders Rebecca and Larry Tolle also attended. They have lived in the city for five and a half years after living in Colorado.

“Just thought it was a great idea,” Rebecca said of coming. “It’s impressive. It’s one of those things that brings you joy.”

Similar events have taken place in larger cities.

After the event, organizer Justin Stets said the goal of the event was to build the community.

“To build a community, people need to come together and eat first,” he said.

Carlson said the event “was beyond our expectations in terms of how good it was.”

She noted the planning that went into Northfield Shares a Meal, adding she felt inspired by her fellow volunteers.

She said she heard of a similar event that took place in St. Paul several years and thought it would be a good meal to hold in Northfield.

“We didn’t invent the wheel, but we invented this wheel,” Carlson said.

She noted the extensive diversity in ages and backgrounds of the people who attended and said people have already told her they met new friends Sunday.

“It was just so rewarding to have such a variety of people who came to the table,” Carlson said.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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