From the Wikipedia:
"Communal work is when a gathering takes place to accomplish a task or to hold a competition. A number of cultures have such gatherings, often for the purpose of holding a competition, as in a spelling bee, or for providing manual labour, as in a barn raising.
Especially in the past, the tasks were often major jobs, such as clearing a field of timber or raising a barn, that would be difficult to carry out alone. It was often both a social and utilitarian event. Jobs like corn husking or sewing, could be done as a group to allow socializing during an otherwise tedious chore. Such gatherings often included refreshments and entertainment provided by the group. Different words have been used to describe such gatherings."