A s you pass through the town of Pawlet this weekend you may find yourself inexplicably drawn eastward along Route 133 by the aroma of freshly stewed meats, buttered squash and homemade pies.
You won’t make it very far — a quarter mile at the most — as your olfactory senses lead you to the source of those smells, the Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department.
The small organization nestled along Flower Brook will hold its annual Wild Game and Chicken Pie Supper at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13.
The supper is practically an institution in the area, having been held on the first Saturday of the Vermont deer hunting rifle season for more than four decades.
This year’s supper will be the 42nd of its kind and conjures images of a bygone era when communities regularly came together for dinners and other gatherings.
“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 organized and coordinate the dinner for the past 14 years and says the meal couldn’t happen without the full cooperation of the community and volunteers who help with the meal.
Petty said the department sends outs cards to members of the community in advance of the event asking for assistance in compiling the food needed for the meal.
“We solicit everyone in town to donate items,” she said. “We sent out around 180 cards to local residents.”
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.
Even local businesses lend a helping hand; the Barn Restaurant prepares its famous moose meatballs for the meal.
Once all the foods are prepared, collected and warmed, Petty, members of the fire department and their spouses serve the hungry throngs of people.
“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 large and varied 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.
And some of those people come a long way.
“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 people typically begin lining up for the meal around 3:30 p.m. with the first round of dinner served around 5 p.m.