AVON – For the second consecutive year, members of the Miller Foods family will say “thanks for giving” to various community groups as they prepare to open their annual Thanksgiving Tent to the public.
Miller Foods, also the home of Oma’s Pride raw pet food and O’Paws freeze-dried pet products, will host special events for local veterans, the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation and police K-9 officers to say “thanks” for the contributions these groups make to the community.
“We’ll have 50 state and local police officers and their canine partners here Nov. 13 for training exercises, a luncheon and a raw feeding seminar with three guest speakers,” said Capri Frank, a third-generation member of the family-run business.
K-9 Officer Rob Johnson of the East Hartford Police Department is in charge of the day’s activities.
On Nov. 14, Miller Foods will serve dinner to Fidelco employees, trainers, ambassadors and volunteers. Then it’s Veterans Appreciation Day Nov. 15, when all local veterans are welcome to attend a Turkey Chili Dinner.
Firefighters from the Avon and Canton volunteer fire departments will prepare the chili, competing against each other in a “cook off.” Chili and side dishes will be served by Avon-Canton Rotary’s youth group, the Interact Club, and ice cream donated by J. Foster in Avon will be served by Avon Boy Scout Troop 274.
“Last year’s chili dinner was a big surprise and this year, we anticipate many more veterans to attend,” said Bill Samol, past commander and current trustee of Avon VFW Post 3272. “We’re thankful to the Miller Foods family for doing this on such an important time as Veterans Day week.”
The veterans’ dinner is not being held on Nov. 12, Veterans Day, as it was last year because more than a dozen members of Post 3272 including Samol are traveling to Washington, D.C. to share in ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War and the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Memorial dedication.
Samol said that Post 3272 got to know the Miller Foods family through the Avon Chamber of Commerce, of which they are both members, and he is grateful for the community effort that he says “transcends all of us.”
These “Thanks for Giving” events set the stage and spirit for Miller Foods’ Thanksgiving tent, an annual tradition for more than 20 years that gives consumers a one-stop shopping venue where turkey and trimmings can be purchased for the holiday.
The outdoor tent opens Saturday, Nov. 17 and runs through Wednesday, Nov. 21.
It will also be open to the public Wednesday, Nov. 14 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for those wishing to purchase items for donation to Jack Bannan’s Farmington Valley Turkey Trot, an annual one-day drive benefiting Foodshare.
Mitchell Auto Group is partnering with Miller Foods in supporting the Turkey Trot and is purchasing $1,500 worth of turkeys for the drive.
Members of the Lite 100.5 WRCH on-air staff will be at Miller Foods during the Turkey Trot from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to greet those who come to donate.
Another celebrity who will be making an appearance is Corey the Pilgrim Dog and his owner, Avon-Canton Animal Control Officer Beverly LaPlume.
Grand opening festivities for the tent will be held on Nov. 17 and 18. Features include music, raffles, children’s activities, face painting, and taste testing. The theme for this year’s tent is “Experience Tradition.”
“As third generation family business owners, we’re excited to once again celebrate our tradition with the community,” Frank said.
“Our family has taught us the value of hard work and ingenuity, and to share what with have with others,” said Frank’s cousin, Tanner Miller-Stevens.
“We look forward to seeing people come back year after year and meeting new friends,” Frank said.
Local service groups and non-profits will have booths at the tent, as will the Avon Chamber of Commerce, The Salvation Army and vendors.
One local vendor who will be in the tent is John D’Arcangelo of J. Foster ice cream. Flavors he’ll be serving include pumpkin pie and vanilla.
“I like being part of the tent; I can feel the holiday spirit,” said D’Arcangelo, who will be with Miller’s for the third year. “In the tent, there’s a giving feeling, a sense that Thanksgiving is not just a day. It’s also a way to support the local economy.”
Free spaces in the tent are still available. If interested, contact Frank.
The Thanksgiving Tent schedule is: Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Monday, Nov. 19, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Tuesday, Nov. 20, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 21, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Miller Foods is located at 308 Arch Road, Avon. For information, call 860-673-3256 or visit http://millerfoodsonline.com, where orders can be placed online.