RICHMOND, Ky. (FOX 56) – A Richmond pub owner is turning his bar into a home to host a Thanksgiving dinner.

Chuck Fields, owner of The Paddy Wagon Irish Pub since 2004, has been providing a family setting for Thanksgiving dinners to the community for almost 20 years.

Formerly a criminology professor at Eastern Kentucky University, Fields said he came up with the idea to feed his neighbors when we learned that many of the students, including foreign exchange students, didn’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving.

He continues that tradition to this day.

“This is really the highlight of my year,” Field said. “About 150 people come. It’s really amazing.”

Fields has been prepping food since 6 a.m. Thursday.

“This is so much fun for me. I’m not a chef, I love to cook,” Fields said.

He prepared nine turkeys of different flavors, side dishes, and desserts, and opened his bar for full service starting at 5 p.m. He doesn’t charge anyone for a plate, as the buffet is free and open to anyone.

Paddy Wagon welcomes everyone from all walks of life, including first responders, but Fields has a purpose of reaching those who need a place with a sense of belonging.

“Especially some of the older guys, widowed or single children, no place to go, they ask me back in August September so you going to do Thanksgiving again this year? So, I’ve realized for some people it’s become pretty important,” Fields said.

Over the years, Fields said what he loves most about hosting Thanksgiving at Paddy Wagon is that it brings back familiar faces.

“Your friends you saw on a daily basis, you just don’t see anymore. Well, they come out here,” Fields said. “It’s important to me that they come in. But I never thought of it as creating that, sense of family, but I kind of believe it does.”

One familiar face is a former colleague from EKU, Terry Cox, who taught criminology right alongside Fields for years.

“Chuck does a magnificent thing here,” Cox said. “This is such a neat part of the community, and he works a lot, puts all this time in, and he won’t charge a dime. We’ve tried to help him out and he won’t take anything.”

Fields said he’s going to turn 70 in May, and he’s thought about how many more Thanksgiving dinners he’s got left in him to host.

“They joke with me, every year I say, “‘This is it, I can’t do it anymore,'” Fields said. “If I can get some help over the years, I think I’ll do this forever.”

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Fields said after the dinner is wrapped up they’ll take the leftovers and donate them to the fire department and other first responders.