GILMANTON — The Dump Run Cafe, which is open every Wednesday morning in the basement of the Gilmanton Community Church (Four Corners), has become the hub of community activity ever since it opened last June.
''It's a place for people to hang out after they go to the dump on Wednesday,'' says Roger Beaudet, the self-proclaimed ''roadie'' who sets up the sound equipment for the Dump Run Gang, a dozen or so musicians who gather each week and play old time favorites like ''Wabash Cannonball'', ''Glory Train'' and ''Temperance Reel.''
Beaudet, whose wife plays autoharp with the band, says that the cafe caught on right away and has become the place to be on Wednesday mornings.
''Everybody is having a good time and it shows,'' says Beaudet, who was one of the few men who got out onto the dance floor when a square dancing session was held this week.
''There were three musicians when we started this last year. Now there are at least a dozen every week and it's like that all the time. We usually have at least 60 people here — they come from all over,'' says Pastor Chris Stevens of the Gilmanton Community Church.
He said that the cafe was started to meet a perceived need in the community for a place where people could sit down together and socialize.
''There's no community center, no coffee shop or place for people to mingle. We at the church thought 'why can't we fill that need?' and started looking for a way to do it. We were waiting for the right person to take the lead and found that person in Judy Rouleau, who was a new member of the church,'' says Stevens.
He says that Rouleau and her husband, Louis, set out to organize the cafe on the same basis as that of a town dump, where people meet and socialize every week. They chose Wednesday, because that's the day the older residents of the town make their dump run to the town transfer station, which is about a mile away from the church.
Stevens says that about half of those who show up are members of he church and half are not, which is the way it was intended.
''We see this as a community effort, not a church effort, and it's part of our social outreach to provide a place for people in the community to meet and have fun together,'' says Stevens.
Among the many volunteers helping out each week are Julie Perkins, who heads up the kitchen crew, which makes coffee, doughnuts, pastries and breakfast sandwiches; Ray Wyss, who cooks the doughnuts, and Ginny Hiltz, who for years supervised the cooking of the bean hole beans at Gilmanton's Old Home Day.
Audrey Danielson of Pittsfield, a fiddle teacher, shows up every week to play, says that she loves the atmosphere of the church hall and enjoys entertaining those who show up.
The Cafe, which is open from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., has expanded to open on the first Saturday morning of each month so that people who can't get there on weekdays can have the opportunity to experience the fun environment.
''You can feel the energy in the building when the people are here and the music is playing. Happiness is something that we need in the world today, and it makes all the people who show up here to take part in the cafe happy to be a part of it,'' says Stevens.
The Dump Run Gang plays an old time favorite ''The Wabash Cannonball'' at a gathering at the Dump Run Cafe in the basement of the Gilmanton Community Church. About 60 townspeople and guests from surrounding communities meet every Wednesday morning for music, coffee and doughnuts and socializing. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)