Citizens of Craig County truly seem to enjoy their wildlife dinners. So much so that more tables had to be set up before a recent dinner could start just to make sure that there were enough seats.
Over 130 people gathered inside the Craig County High School Cafeteria on Saturday, March 17, for the Annual Wildlife Dinner hosted by First Baptist Church. “This is our fourth dinner here at the school,” Pastor Kevin Altizer said. “We just want to be a blessing to our community, have good fellowship and food and a message about Jesus Christ.”
First Baptist held previous dinners in the past but had to find a larger venue to accommodate everyone at the wildlife dinner.
The New Horizons Band from West Virginia provided music throughout the entire evening. Steven Mounts thoroughly entertained while playing banjo while Joe Howard (guitar), Joey Morgan (mandolin) and Ernie Keller (bass) also did a great job.
Their slogan on their trailer read, “Bluegrass for the Soul.” They sang popular oldie favorites as well as a new song titled, “Like a Cat in a Room Full of Rocking Chairs.”
Howard asked people to closely listen to the words in his “Garden Gate” song.
“Son, read your Bible, kneel and pray,” the song mentions. “It’s like working a garden with this old hoe, that’s what it takes to make it grow, spending some time on your knees pulling weeds and planting seeds.”
While more than 130 people scanned the rows of food, the cooks decided to get creative with the names of their meat. People were all smiles as they enjoyed General Tso’s Long Beard Gobbler, Teriyaki Ringtail Coon, Italian Venison Meatloaf, Sesame Ginger Deer Tenderloin, Deer Stroganoff, Kentucky Fried Buzzard and Venison Sliders along with enough side dishes and desserts to fill any table.
“This isn’t just finger-lickin’ good, it’s elbow drippin’ good,” said one band member.
The dinner was offered to the entire community, and those who could donate generously did so. Each attendee received a ticket to win one of about 75 free door prizes given away for kids and adults.
Pastor Altizer built a small barn-like structure with a metal roof and had several hunters throughout Craig bring their animals to mount on it, which ended up becoming the main attraction.
The drawings were held at different intervals during the evening. The grand prize was a crossbow. Most of the other prizes – knives, vests, fishing rods, coolers and saws – were purchased at Park Center Sporting Goods at a (donated) huge discount.
Special speaker was Aaron Calfee from Craig County.
“Your passion is where you spend your time,” he said. “I can’t tell you when the first day of bow season is because I have no passion for it. But I have the countdown at my house when training season is and that night at 12:01 a.m. I am there because that’s my passion!”
He added, “The hunt is the fun part, but we all know that a bad day hunting is better than a good day at work.”
He then asked, “How come we don’t’ treat our Christian life like that? I’m telling you, a bad day with Jesus Christ is better than a good day in this world. Sometimes as Christians, we give up on God sayings. We start blaming him for people’s mistakes in our lives.”
Calfee also said he knew that many attendees understood the excitement of sitting in the tree stand, turning their pack of dogs loose or fishing in the trout stream.
“And it may not be a good day where we have a stringer full of fish or we may not have even seen a deer, but you know what…it still beats a day at work,” he said. “A heartbreak with Jesus Christ still beats a triumph in this world as one day you will close your eyes in death and wake up standing before Almighty God and will discover that a bad day covered by the blood of Jesus Christ is better than a great day in this world.”
Calfee seemed to tap into the ‘bloodstream’ of many hunters after making those comments.
“As hunters, we are so dedicated to passing what we know to the next generation,” he said before the event concluded. “How many of you are determined that your son or daughter will have killed a deer, a bear or caught a fish by the time they turn five?”
He then asked attendees a flurry of questions: “What are we leaving our kids spiritually in the next generation? What do they see in us? Do they know more about how good of a fisherman or a hunter we are or the bloodlines of our dogs than we have shown them about Jesus Christ? Do they know more about our trophy wall in our bedroom than what God has done in our life?”
Calfee suggested that attendees look at the world right now, and challenged them to make a change in their lives to live with that passion.
Many stayed and continued their conversations with laughter and hugs. “I have attended every one of these events, and they just keep getting bigger and better,” Darren Frango shared.