L ocal residents will have a chance to enjoy a taste of the wild side over the next two weekends as several communities hold their annual game suppers.
In Pawlet, the annual Wild Game and Chicken Pie Supper will be held on Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Pawlet Fire Department. Food will be served starting at 5 p.m.
The supper, which has been a tradition in the Pawlet region for the past 42 years, is held on the first Saturday of the Vermont deer hunting rifle season.
“It’s a community tradition,” explained Ellen Petty. “It’s one of the only community things we still do together. You don’t have much of that left anymore.”
Petty has helped organize and coordinate the dinner for the past 14 years and says the dinner couldn’t happen without the full cooperation of the community and volunteers who help with the meal.
“We solicit everyone in town to donate items,” she said. “We sent out around 180 cards to local residents.”
Most of the food is donated by local citizens.
Leading up to the meal, local residents and game wardens alike donate several kinds of meat — bear, venison, moose — which are used to create many of the main dishes.
“Alan Cooper donates all the squash and we ask people to prepare different salads for the meal,” Petty explained.
Local businesses even pitch in.
According to Petty, the Barn Restaurant prepares the moose meatballs (which are usually referred to without the word “meat”) in advance of the dinner.
Once the foods are prepared, Petty is left with the task of organizing all the dishes, warming those that need it, and placing them so they can be served.
During the actual meal, Petty employs the help of the firefighters’ wives and several volunteers from the town to assist in serving the hungry throngs of people. The firefighters themselves usually pile the food on patron’s dishes and the youth firefighters fill the role of “gopher,” carrying empty dishes back to the kitchen and re-filling patrons’ beverages.
“It’s a lot of work, but everyone has a piece,” Petty said.
The menu is quite extensive and includes the aforementioned moose meatballs, venison or moose sausage, bear roast, venison roast, chicken pie, stew, chicken and biscuits, mashed potatoes, squash, meatloaf, salads, rolls, Cabot cheese, pickles, pies and more.
All that delicious food attracts a rather sizable crowd.
“The least I think we’ve ever had is 250 people and I think the best year we had more than 400 people,” Petty said. “It’s usually around 300.”
Although the dinner attracts a sizable proportion of the local citizenry, allowing old friends and neighbors a chance to catch up on the happenstance of their lives, a large percentage of the diners come from out of town.
“I’ve already had people from out of town calling and asking about the dinner. I even had someone call from Rhode Island,” Petty said. “You get a lot of people who are in the area to do some hunting.”
Petty said some people begin lining up as early as 3:30 p.m. with dinner typically served around 5 p.m.
The cost of the meal is $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12 years old with proceeds benefiting the Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department.
For more information about Pawlet’s Wild Game Supper, call Petty at 325-3495 or e-mail the department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who are too busy hunting or simple can’t make it to Pawlet’s Game Supper, the Tinmouth Volunteer Fire Department will host its 41st annual Community Game Supper on Saturday, Nov. 20, starting at 4:30 p.m.
The meal will be held in the Tinmouth Community Center, located on Route 140 in Tinmouth. The Community Center is handicap accessible.
Like the Pawlet Game Supper, the Tinmouth Game Supper serves as a major fundraiser for the town’s fire department and attracts around 500 people every year, making it one of Vermont’s largest game suppers.
“We get our game meat-venison, moose and bear-from the Vermont state game wardens as well as donations, which is all processed by the firemen and friends in a careful manner which assures only the finest cuts are at your table,” organizers explained in a recent press release.
The menu includes many of the same staples found in Pawlet with a few twists such as venison and moose sauerbraten, cornbread chili, secret marinated roasts, Alan’s smoked moose, and Grandma Birdsall’s wild Italian meatballs.
The meal also includes more than 100 homemade pies.
The “all-you’d-like-to-eat” meal costs $15 for adults and $10 for anyone 12 and under. Kids 6 and under eat free.
According to founding member Glenn Merrill, the meal “just keeps getting better every year.”
For more information about the Tinmouth Game Supper, call Chief Marshall Squier at 235-2718.