Most game dinners are run as fundraisers, with the money going to different charitable organizations or, in the case of some fish and game clubs, for improvements at the club.
This year, my hunting partner Dave Wetmore and I started off the year by going to the ever popular Wallingford Wishing Well (WWW) game dinner held at the Villa Capri in Wallingford.
The WWW Game Dinner headed up by Chris Holcomb and a group of hardworking volunteers is always heavily attended and features a raffle of prizes that has to be seen to be believed. One of the nice things about the WWW Game Dinner is that patrons do not have to get into a line to receive the various game dishes, although you do have to get up to receive the various appetizers put out by the WWW that include venison chili, venison stew, clam chowder and striped bass.
I’m nearly full by the time I finish with the appetizers, but then it is time for the main courses. We started out with mussels steamed to perfection, followed by stuffed clams and wild boar ribs. Then came a duck sausage and peppers dish, venison meat loaf, pheasant and dumplings, with the affair being topped off by venison roast.
The WWW Game Dinner benefits underprivileged and abused children and women in the Wallingford area. The entire main meal is served to the patrons by a highly efficient corps of volunteers that goes all out to make sure you are happy.
Next in line was the Meriden Rod & Gun Club Game Dinner that featured mussels, venison liver wrapped in bacon, scallops wrapped in bacon, venison stew, duck chili, striped bass, rabbit ala Rich Kruglik (an Italian style dish with peppers, olives, onions and tomatoes that is to die for). I also love the venison and scallops wrapped in bacon. The Meriden Rod & Gun Club game Dinner also features a steamship roast of buffalo that has been a very popular item on its game dinner menu.
It goes without saying that these game dinners are very popular, both for the folks that patronize them and the organizations that feature them, and they sell out very quickly. In fact, some of them are just about sold out a year in advance. How do you get a ticket? If you know anyone involved with these dinners, ask them to try and get you on the list.
A case in point is the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association (QRWA) Game Dinner that I have helped organize over the years. We take the money from this game dinner and purchase large trout (some of them tagged) and stock the Quinnipiac River prior to opening day of trout season.
I try to keep the numbers down a bit and, generally, we host about 80 patrons, enabling us to avoid overcrowding the affair. I have a master list of the folks that support it each year with their phone numbers. Prior to the event, which is held on the first Sunday in March at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club, I phone the previous year’s ticket holders to see if they want to come to the next dinner. They have first refusal for tickets and the event is sold out after the phone calls are made.
The cooking is done by local sportsman Tom “Farmer” Barry and his lovely wife Tina, plus a few of his friends. This year we were also awarded with the services of my friend John Ford, who came up with a fabulous venison Shepherd’s Pie. Tom also creates various venison roasts, meat loafs, stews, chili, suffrito (venison hearts) and a guarantee that no one will go away hungry.
Last, but by no means least, is that ever fabulous Hunter Game Dinner held right at Hunter Ambulance headquarters on West Main Street, Meriden. John Gopian organizes this always sold out game dinner assisted by the Hunter family. This year, the dinner took place under a dark cloud with the passing of Vern Hunter, but it took place because Vern would have wanted it that way.
Chef Dave Borselle who runs a`Vert brasserie, 35 LaSalle Rd., East Hartford (860-904-6240) was the power behind the menu. Appetizers featured oyster stew, smoked mahi-mahi, Goose ala Todd, bayou venison chili, authentic Bourbon Street style crayfish boil, chilled mussels and clams on the half-shell.
If you haven’t already guessed, the game dinner was presented in a Southern Louisiana-New Orleans-Cajun style. Next came the game dinner, starting with French Quarter tossed salad with chicken and pecans served with cornbread. Then the diners were treated to venison andouille sausage and chicken gumbo with cilantro.
By then I had to loosen up my belt a notch and they came out with grilled Cajun catfish, sweet potentates and vidalia onions.
Of course, it isn’t New Orleans without jambalaya with shrimp and sausage followed by oven-roasted alligator with endive radekio and sauce remoulade. The dessert was a southern-styled bread pudding topped with ice cream and a bourbon sauce.
As they always do, Chef Dave Borselle, John Gopian and the Hunter Ambulance crew outdid themselves once again with a game dinner to remember. One of the beneficiaries of this year’s feast was the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association. Kudos to one and all on a job well done. I know that Vern and Dan would have been proud of you.
KIDS FISHING DERBY
If you let the weatherman keep you and the kids home last Saturday, you missed out on one of the best children’s fishing derbies ever! While the weather forecasts were not all that inviting, 80 children up to 15 years of age were in attendance for the annual City of Meriden/Meriden Rod & Gun Club Fishing Derby at Mirror Lake.
This was the third year since the derby was relocated to Hubbard Park and it had now become an event that parents and their children look forward to every year. Once again, the event was featured on the CT DEEP Inland Fisheries “Free Fishing Day” when everyone gets a free one-day pass to fish without purchasing a fishing license so they can discover the fun of fishing.
The CT Inland Fisheries surprised everyone by showing up early and stocking Mirror Lake with some really nice trout. This gave many young anglers their first ever chance at catching and landing some trout.
The event is called “The Carl D’Addario Annual Children’s Fishing Derby” in honor of Carl, who supported the event for many years. Volunteers from the Meriden Rod & Gun Club run the event for the City of Meriden. The club members were kept busy throughout the derby registering the various species of fish that were weighed in, including, trout, largemouth bass, calico bass, yellow perch and bluegills, as well as supplying those in attendance with hotdogs and soft drinks.
I would like to add that all of the fish registered were very healthy in appearance and the number of calico bass (crappie) surprised many of us. There was even a carp fisherman on hand to share his knowledge on carp fishing with anyone interested.
Winners of the bicycles awarded in the various age groups were Julian Toonz (boys 6-under), Julieann Messner (girls 6-under); Dan Zawalich (boys 7-12), Jocelyn Tkacz (girls 7-12), Mike Falconnari (boys 12-15) and Mallory Dandelski (girls 12-15).
The Carl D’Addario Children’s Fishing Derby sponsored by the City of Meriden and run by the Meriden Rod & Gun Club has become a much-looked-for event and comments praising the City of Meriden, The Meriden Rod & Gun Club and the DEEP Inland Fisheries for offering such a program were heard everywhere by parents of the children in attendance.
HOW’S THE FISHING?
The weather has not been all that cooperative for some of the trout fishing with the torrential rains we got at the beginning of May, but things should be picking up as we go into the end of May.
The Quinnipiac River has been producing some stocked trout and any angler that catches trout in the Quinnipiac River should note that some of the trout are tagged and will reward the lucky angler with a gift certificate from some of the local businesses. If you do catch a tagged trout, give Pete Picone a call at (860) 628-6582. You do have to have the number of the tag to collect the prize.
Shoreline fishermen seem to be doing petty good at Black Pond on the Meriden/Middlefield town line. I tried trolling with my cartop and was only able to land one trout, but I also think the weather patterns have been messing up some of the trout fishing.
Fishermen I have talked to who were fishing Mirror Lake were very complimentary about the easy access to the lake. One gent who was using a cane remarked that he thought his fishing days were over because of the difficulty he had maneuvering around a fishing spot, but the easy access at Mirror Lake has now provided him with a spot to while away some time while enjoying the fun of fishing once again.
Once again, kudos are owed to the City of Meriden Parks and Recreation, City Councilors and the CT DEEP Inland Fisheries for making this enjoyment possible.
*QRWA Canoe Race
*Meriden Lions Club Jack Fontanella Kids Fishing Derby
*Meriden Lions Club Duck Race
All on the Quinnipiac River.
See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.