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By Caroline Downs
GooseFest participants can be forgiven this year for asking, “Where’s the goose?”
For that matter, they may as well ask, “Where’s the bear? Where’s the elk? Where’s the pheasant?”
After 23 years on the schedule, the popular Wild Game Feed can no longer be held.
“It’s disappointing that we’re not able to do it,” said Arlen Gartner, member of Kenmare’s GooseFest committee.
Gartner cited concerns raised by First District Health Unit Environmental Services inspectors through the years. “Their chief complaint was that we were using uninspected product,” Gartner said, referring to the donations of wild game received from area hunters for the event. “To purchase these meats, we’re talking $20 to $50 per pound, and we can’t afford that.”
FDHU was also concerned about the dishes not being cooked on the premises of the Wild Game Feed, under supervision, but in private and unlicensed kitchens by volunteers throughout the community.
“In conversations with First District Health Unit, they’re saying, ‘You guys are doing this year after year after year,’” Gartner said. The Wild Game Feed was accepted on certain conditions at one time by FDHU inspectors because it was considered as a unique occasion in the community. However, after serving bear roasts, stir-fried goose, and venison meatballs once a year for 23 years, the Health Department has to enforce the food safety rules.
Gartner said the entire committee was disappointed with the decision. “People looked forward to this,” he said. “We have people who come every year who wouldn’t be able to try wild game otherwise. This was a way of educating the public about the taste of these meats and different recipes for preparing them, and we do everything we can to keep things safe.”
The FDHU action will not change the GooseFest schedule, however. Local residents and visiting hunters can still look forward to a social hour, meal and the Goose Hunters Hall of Fame induction on Wednesday night, October 24th.
This year, the Wild Game Feed has changed to a BBQ Pork Feed. Gartner said three whole, inspected pork will be slow-cooked that day on rotisseries at the Memorial Hall. “This will satisfy what First District Health Unit wants to see,” he said.
The rest of the menu will be similar to past years, with mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh buns and corn served. Those folks who show up for supper early can snack on a variety of hors d’oeuvres and crackers. And the famous apple pies baked fresh for the meal will continue to be offered for dessert by the slice, with any leftover pies available for sale at the end of the evening.
Serving begins at 6 pm, and freewill donations are welcomed to offset the cost of the meal. The Hall of Fame induction will follow the supper.
GooseFest committee members invite everyone to the BBQ Pork Feed. “We hope the public still supports it,” Gartner said. “This night is a social gathering and a big part of GooseFest. We want people to enjoy themselves!”