Hundreds of headless Northwestern salmon are making their way toward Payson.
No, it's not Steven King's latest book. It's the 34th annual salmon supper, scheduled Friday."We ordered 2,500 pounds last year, but we've had more interest this year, so we will fly in 2,600 or 2,700 pounds," said Blaine Wright, spokesman for the LDS Park Ward, which sponsors the event.
About 200 ward members will prepare the food ahead of time, then serve 2,500 people between 5 and 7 p.m. In addition to the salmon, diners will get corn, a baked potato, cake and "secret recipe" cole slaw.
"The cole slaw has an extra twang to it. My wife has been trying to pry that recipe out of the family that has it for years, but they won't give it to anyone," Wright said.
The dinner is the ward's annual welfare project. It started as a ward dinner, but word spread and demand grew. The ward soon abandoned other fund-raisers to concentrate on salmon.
"The serious planning starts six weeks before the dinner, but we work on it all year. When the fruit trees are pruned, we spend a lot of time collecting the trimmings and setting them out to dry," Wright said. "Hardwood grilling makes the salmon taste a lot better, and apple wood is the best."
Another secret is basting the salmon with butter, applied with a leafy celery stalk brush for extra flavor.
And they serve only salmon that has never been frozen.
"We buy it a day or two before we need it, from wherever the catch is good. Some years it's from Oregon. One year it was from Alaska."
There will also be entertainment by a Dixieland band and selections from "Hello Dolly," performed by the Payson Community Theatre.
Wright said people charter buses from Salt Lake City to attend.
"We even see some people from Nevada and Arizona. I won't say they come just for the salmon, but we do see the same faces every year.
Donation is $7.50 for adults and $5 for children under 12. The dinner will be served at Payson Memorial Park, 100 S. Main. For advance reservations, call 465-3710.