A snowstorm was not enough to deter several hundred people from attending the sold-out A Taste of the Wildlife 2014 fundraiser benefiting The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas on Friday night at the Pine Bluff Country Club.
Arts Center Executive Director Lenore Shoults said the event is crucial to the work that she and her staff do.
“We have this fundraiser because we have free admission, free hands-on activities and free field trips, which is virtually unheard of,” Shoults said. “We couldn’t do this without the hunters who so generously donated the wild game that was then prepared by Chef Jamie McAfee and enjoyed by our wonderful supporters.”
Shoults said all 200 $50 tickets to the event were sold.
“We are thrilled to have such great supporters in the community,” Shoults said. “You can see, even with the snow we have a great crowd.”
McAfee, who is head chef at the PBCC, created several memorable dishes with the wild bounty that he received.
“We have wild boar, rabbit, duck, dove and venison,” McAfee said. “We began the prep work three days ago. We try to prepare the meat in ways that you can’t get it in the deer camp.”
McAfee said the prep work began three days before the event and the cooking itself took around six hours to complete.
McAfee and his staff prepared smothered and fried venison steaks, wild boar with blackberry sauce, rabbit and chicken dumplings, spaghetti with venison meatballs, red snapper etouffe and dove with sherry cream sauce among others.
Laura Smart served as chairman of the event.
“It was so easy to do this because of the wonderful guidance of Lenore [Shoults] and her staff,” Smart said. “This event is great for Pine Bluff because our area is famous for its hunting opportunities. So, having this event highlights that heritage and its popularity means funding for the Arts Center.”
Eric Maynard, director of the Delta Rivers Nature Center, provided the laser shooting gallery that was used in the Plush & Pearls fundraiser that saw participants pay $5 for a chance to win a stuffed animal adorned with jewelry donated by Sissy’s Log Cabin.
“We have done things with the Arts Center before and they have a presence at some of our events,” Maynard said. “It is beneficial for us to have a presence at the wild game banquet because the attendees are people that can relate to us and to what we do.”
Maynard’s wife, Susie Maynard, has a professional affinity for the Arts Center.
“I’m an art teacher at Moody Elementary School in White Hall so I’m happy to support the Arts Center,” she said.
The event also featured a silent auction as well as a draw-down or reverse raffle.