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Wild Game Dinner - quarter of a century & countin'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Those who think over-indulging left their belts tight after the recent Christmas holiday are advised not to exhale yet, there's more good food coming.

On Saturday, Jan. 28, the congregation of the Bandera Grace Lutheran Church will celebrate their 25th annual Wild Game Dinner. Over the past quarter of a century, this dinner has grown from a local church function to a Hill Country culinary extravaganza. Serving begins at 4 pm and continues until 7 pm. Donations of $10 are requested for all-you-can-eat-including-drinks adult meals. For dine-in guests only, one child under 10 years of age will eat free with each paid adult meal. Take out meals are also available. The entire congregation pitches in to prepare a wide variety of wild game meat for the traditionally expansive groaning board. All meat is thoroughly inspected and "not a hair will be found on it." And, the Wild Game Dinner's founder, the late Werner Lindig, an avid hunter, wouldn't have it any other way.

This year's fare for the Wild Game dinner will include axis and white tail deer, black buck antelope, barbecued wild hog, javelina and rattlesnake, among other varieties.

Past spectacular spreads featured black bear chili, fallow deer, elk and bobwhite quail. This is a belly bustin' meal for sure.

To complement the fundraising effort, Oscar Valdez will again contribute his special 100 percent venison summer sausage. Church youth will provide sweet endings to the feast with a delectable variety of homemade desserts. Guests at the Wild Game Dinner never fail to note the camaraderie and teamwork of the church congregation, which makes the annual event so special. Team leaders supervise details that range from decorating the hall and providing the musical entertainment for the evening to breading the meat for the "Fry Daddies" and "Grill Lizards" in charge of cooking. And, the "Pit Crew" works through the night to have the wild hog tender and moist - just the way everyone likes it.

Diners sit at long tables set up in the church hall, enjoying good eats and fellowship of friends both old and new. Fittingly, mounted trophy game gaze down on the festivities.

Traditionally, 10 percent of the proceeds from the Wild Game Dinner will be earmarked for the church's charitable benevolence. The remaining funds will be used to augment activities identified by the church council. Expressing hopes that this will be a banner year for the event, Pastor Nancy Lund said, "We at Grace Lutheran - along with our friends throughout the Hill Country community - wish to make this a special event to honor the memory of Werner Lindig, in addition to all those who have worked so hard over the past 25 years to make this event such a success."

Pictured: The 25th annual Bandera Grace Lutheran Church Wild Game Dinner will take place from 4 pm until 7 pm, Saturday, Jan. 28. Toiling behind the scenes, these "church ladies" readied cutlets of wild game for the Fry Daddies to work their magic.