Things get a little ‘wild’ at annual wildlife dinner

Pam Dudding
Contributing writer

Each year, people who attend the Craig Valley Gospel Fellowship Church Wildlife Dinner joke about what they hope will be at the next year’s dinner.

Though there was no possum, groundhog or snake, the hunters did ‘up the game’ on the smorgasbord of choices at this year’s 13th annual event as over 250 people entered Camp Tuk-A-Way for the exciting evening’s dinner.

There were the usual favorites: bear and venison BBQs, venison tenderloin, squirrel, fried rabbit and wild turkey. New this year was caribou stew, turtle soup and crawdads with corn on the cob and veggies and squirrel gravy.

“I personally arrived early to sneak in the kitchen to see what the hunters had cooked. They made my requested squirrel gravy,” Pam Dudding said. “I had always heard it was delicious but never tasted it. To my delight, it was handed to me immediately, poured over two hot biscuits, and it was truly delicious. My six-year-old great niece, Maeleigh, was with me and asked to taste it. That went my bowl of squirrel gravy because she ate almost every bite.”

The most talked-about dish this year was the crawdads with veggies.

As people went through the line, the hunters always offered a big spoonful to everyone.  Expressions were priceless when the crawdads were extended to their plates. Some said “no thanks” while others quickly pulled their plate back as not to even touch their food. The servers seemed to get a kick out of many responses.

Many side dishes were available including, biscuits, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, green beans, pintos, baked beans, corn, coleslaw and macaroni salad among others.  A wide selection of desserts was also available.

When people arrived, they enjoyed the music being played by Heaven Bound, David Looney, Randy Dudding and other friends who joined in.

The overall warmth of the entire building was welcoming to all. Conversations took place across tables with strangers and laughter was nonstop.

After everyone had their turn, Pastor Jay Law invited Fred Craft to share a personal testimony. He told his story with much emotion.

Pastor Law shared, “If you don’t have a home church, come visit us some Sunday. We’ll treat you so many ways that you are bound to like one of them.”

He added, “I want to thank God for our church and all the behind scenes work. I am thankful for every one of them,” Law said. It’s a lot of work that goes into this dinner and not for just the three hours here for you all, but we’ve been cooking for weeks and hunters have been out in the field for a year. I am one proud pastor.”

He noted that all the money that was collected goes into their church so they can help people in situations such as when a house burns down, someone can’t pay their electric bill, someone dies or has a disaster.

“We try to be right there,” he said. “That’s what Jesus would want us to do and we are thankful for that.”

In Law’s closing prayer, he added, “Sometimes we see mountains and valleys and even question You, but we’re still going to trust You, Lord.”

Dana Law Caldwell gave away about 100 door prizes, called the gun and cabinet raffles and gave away a few hundred dollars on a 50/50.

People received a to-go tray as the church members had cooked so much. One little girl took some crawdads home to her dad. She giggled as they put them on her plate.

“We would like to thank each and everyone who came out and supported our dinner, including the congregation at Craig Valley Gospel Fellowship Church,” Caldwell said. “We are a small church, but like the good Book said, ‘Little is much when God is in it.’”

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