Peggy Lamborne

We're only 1,700 pounds of turkey breast (plus 4 magnificent display turkeys), 315 pounds of stuffing, 1,110 pounds of mashed potatoes, 40 gallons of gravy, 60 gallons of cranberry sauce, 5,000 rolls and 6,500 desserts away from Wagsgiving. The annual Thanksgiving celebration hosted by UNCW Campus Dining, will begin at 4 p.m. on Nov. 20 in Wagoner Hall.

Peggy Lamborne, Hospitality Manager with Campus Dining, gives us the lowdown on how the popular event has "grown legs," and become a campus tradition.

How much prep time and planning goes into the event each year?
The menu is traditional and our production/chef team has been involved for a number of years so the planning stage has become more of an administrative check list, albeit a long one. The actual preparations and service require the resources of our campus dining team. The sheer volume of food required to feed an estimated 3,700 guests is amazing.  We actually arrange for a refrigerated semi trailer to hold the turkeys and pies as they are prepped for the event.

Who thought of Wagsgiving?
The students named the event about seven years ago. The tradition of a Thanksgiving dinner was well established prior to my arrival.  The celebration used to be held the Thursday prior to the actual Thursday of Thanksgiving but with the growth of the student population and popularity of the event, it has been moved to the Wednesday before since the chef team and kitchen facilities usually have a lighter catering line up mid week which allows for greater oven/stove use and staff participation. The chef team and bakers are in by 3 a.m. to begin roasting the turkeys and baking the rolls and pies for the big night.

The line for Wagsgiving begins forming as early as 2 p.m. What do you credit to its popularity?
This has become a prime opportunity for friends to gather for entertainment and hot cider on the walkway while awaiting the opening of Wagoner at 4 p.m. and their turn to join the festivities inside. Everyone enjoys the camaraderie and traditional fare that heralds the beginning of the holiday season and the end of the semester.  It is a chance for everyone to have dinner with their UNCW family before heading home for Thanksgiving and dinner at home with family. This is also a time when much of the Campus Dining team gets to see one another and work together on an event.  It is definitely an "all hands on deck" dinner.

Holiday cooking/eating/hosting tips for the rest of us:
Cook with joy!  Everything tastes better when shared with friends and family in a festive atmosphere. Try a twist on traditional comfort foods by using fruits and juices to sweeten favorite dishes instead of sugar. Roasting vegetables intensifies their flavors and brings out their natural sweetness.  And I love pie, me oh my!...Bon Appetit!