TINMOUTH — The 50th anniversary of what may be the state’s biggest and longest running wild game supper happened Saturday, just shy of a week before Thanksgiving.
The Game Supper has been held annually to support the Tinmouth Volunteer Fire Department.
“I’m the last remaining charter member — I’ve been there for 52 years,” said Chief Mo Squier. “My father and I, a couple others, firemen, we had to raise money somehow, being a little town with few resources and at that time only a couple hundred people.”
Squier said all the money raised goes to the fire department.
“We started it downstairs in the old school before the additions were put on it, we just cooked steak, good Lord, we smoked that place up,’ said Squier. The supper was moved to a church as it grew, and it kept getting bigger. “As it grew, there just wasn’t room, so then we used the firehouse until after the community center was built. Now we can seat 200 hundred at a time.”
If the weather is good, the supper may draw between 400 and 600 people, he said.
“It’s probably the largest one in Vermont,” said Squier. “We’re one of the oldest. Pawlet is 51 this year, they’ve done it every year, and Rupert does it the same night we do.”
The famous Tinmouth pies were available, and people bring other food items to round out all the meat. “ It takes the whole community to put it on,” said Squier. “You have to bake 100 pies, we get together and cut all the meat up at the end of this week. A couple hundred pounds of squash and potatoes they’ve gotten ready, so it’s a pretty big effort.”
Moose meat lovers were out of luck this year, unless they got a line on another source.
“We do deer, moose and bear,” said Squier. “The moose are almost wiped out of Vermont so we didn’t get one this year. That’s one of our bigger staples, because you get 400 or 500 pounds of meat off of a moose. The ticks are wiping them out. It’s a changing landscape.”
In years past, there was more species variety.
“We used to serve about 40 raccoons a year, but when they got rabies no one wanted to mess with them, so we don’t anymore,” said Squier. “We just stuck with venison, bear and moose. Years ago, we used to serve everything from porcupines to gray squirrels, and we kind of got away from that when my mother said she wasn’t going to cook them anymore.”
Folks who aren’t fans of game meat or meat, period, have options, Squier said. There’s chicken, salads and vegetables aplenty.
While the supper focuses on three species, the flavor options are more widespread.
“We cook each species four or five different ways,” said Squier, adding that his wife is one of the main cooks. “She makes sauerbraten, she makes venison chili, cornbread tops, we have marinated ginger, garlic, we cut up all our own roasts and have them all ready to eat, we smoke it, stir-fry, each species has four or five ways you can try it.”
The meat is all donated, he said. Many people bring what was leftover in their freezers from last year. What doesn’t get eaten at the supper goes into Squier’s truck and he takes it to Rutland City to Open Door Mission, a homeless shelter.
Squier said the supper raised between $7,000 and $8,000 for the department, which he said sounds like a lot to some but won’t cover the cost of equipping one firefighter.
He said the atmosphere is laid back and quite social. People come from not just Tinmouth, but from the surrounding area as well as other states.
“I think it’s having good quality food,” he said, on why the supper has been running so long. “We’re very careful about our game and the way we cook it. Not many people cook it the way we cook it. I think all of these things are wonderful and good, but ours is a little unique.”