Coon Feed still packs ‘em in
In its 81st year, attendance so high 
that second-helpings unavailable

By EMILY BULTMAN - GM Today Staff 

January 28, 2008

 

Harvey Schuster of Nashotah dishes up slow-roasted raccoon meat Saturday at the 81st annual Coon Feed at the American Legion Delafield Post No. 196. The traditional wild game feed was started by local hunter Tom McNulty as a means to raise money for youth programs.


Chris Knapp, commander of the Sons of the American Legion at Post 196 in Delafield, serves up some coleslaw and turkey to guests at the 81st Annual Coon Feed on Saturday. The traditional wild game feed was started by local hunter Tom McNulty, who died in 1991, as a means to raise money for youth programs. Organizers served turkey Saturday to those attending the event who wanted to eat more traditional fare.


DELAFIELD - The last time Tim Clark and his wife, Betty, came to the Coon Feed was in 1985, when founder Tom McNulty was proudly serving raccoon meat from his final hunt to people waiting in the long lines.

"We wanted to bring our son, Atticus, this year so that he is able to experience the dinner for himself," said Tim Clark, of Elm Grove. "What is interesting is the number of families with smaller kids here and how everyone comes together to enjoy a meal."

Hundreds filled their plates at the 81st annual Coon Feed held at the Delafield American Legion Post on Saturday, showing that there is just as much excitement about the event as the day it was started.

"One of the best parts of this day is to see people from all over sit down and talk for hours," said Lillian McNulty, Tom’s wife and now the organizer of the Coon Feed.

In fact, guests came from around the state and as far as Illinois to taste roasted raccoon meat, prepared with Tom’s secret recipe.

One distinguished guest, U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, also made his annual appearance less than an hour after landing at Gen. Mitchell International Airport.

"I left early from the Republican Congress retreat in West Virginia to make it in time," Sensenbrenner said. "I make it a point to come every year because this is something unique to Wisconsin."

He added that other members at the Republican Congress retreat asked him what the coon meat tasted like.

"I told them come with me next year and find out first-hand because it is something indescribable," Sensenbrenner said.

Legion members and dedicated volunteers offered choices that included mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, sauerkraut and a variety of dessert choices for those that saved room.

advertisement

 

 

Kelly Bukowsky, who has been involved with the Coon Feed for the past five years, said the first question people always ask her is what does the raccoon meat tastes like.

"The best way to describe it is a rich, slow-roasted, dark meat," she said. "We keep trying to add more space by shortening the dessert tables each year so we can accommodate more people. Right now, we have seating for 93 people at a time, and with the bar area, for 107 people."

McNulty said that although about 70 raccoons were needed, there was still a shortage of meat, which meant no second helpings this year on raccoon.

"We are completely dependent on what meat is available from hunters, but we make the most of what we have," she said.

Turkey was also available for people that decided not to be experiment with the raccoon meat.

"I tell people that have never had coon to start with a small piece because usually they try to get a great, big serving and some might be wasted if they do not like it," McNulty said.

Waukesha residents Bonnie Kintop and her husband, Bob, came to the Coon Feed for the first time this year.

"I hear about the event from friends and always wanted to come try the raccoon," Bonnie said. "It does not taste like chicken, but it was very good with spice to it."

Commemorative Coon Feed shirts were a popular souvenir to take home, with proceeds from the shirts being donated to Waukesha County chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America and other dinner proceeds benefiting American Legion youth programs.

Catherine Lambrecht, who made the journey from Chicago, took her leftovers home to freeze.

"It is quite the process from getting and preparing the meat, so I think Tom would be happy to see how many people clean their plates," McNulty said.

Emily Bultman can be reached at ebultman@conleynet.com


This story appeared in The Freeman on January 28, 2008.