Venison sausage balls, elk stew and dove roll-ups were just a few items in the smorgasbord of wild game dishes served up at the West Augusta Rotary Club’s annual Taste of Something Wild on Saturday.
About 20 local hunters served up their best harvest at the Julian Smith Casino Barbecue Pit, while Eryn Eubanks and the Family Fold provided a country/bluegrass soundtrack.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and the Fisher House, which provides lodging for families of patients at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. Last year’s event raised $13,000, said event Chairman Paul Pelletier.
Rotary District Gov. Bob Griggers said he came hungry but vowed he wouldn’t leave that way.
Dallas Simon started early Saturday cooking catfish stew, Brunswick stew, elk stew, barbecue, mahi mahi and quail. He bagged some of the deer, and friend Nick Smith hunted all night and brought a hog Saturday morning, he said.
Simon organized the first wild game dinner 12 years ago and has remained involved.
“I stole (the idea) from a hunting club who had done it for years and lost money on it,” he said. “I said, ‘I think I can make this work.’”
Everything is donated, and ads are sold and published in a wild game cookbook that is passed out at the door to offset costs.
The first year, the event made $10,000, which was used to help build an adaptive playground on Reynolds Street.
“Ever since then, it has been going to either the Boy Scouts or Alzheimer’s,” Simon said.
Only five of the 15 hunters are Rotarians; the rest are volunteers, he said.
Pelletier said last year’s event drew about 300 people.
“If it’s that busy again this year, we may have to look at having it somewhere else,” he said.
There was still plenty of room to move around when Jeri Heos arrived shortly after 6 p.m. She has attended the dinner with her friends John and Suzanne Smith for the past three years.
Though Heos is not a member of the Rotary Club, she keeps coming back because she always has a good time and it gives her a chance to see friends she hasn’t seen in a while.
“The food is great, and I love the entertainment,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”