Elks’ Wildlife Dinner draws hundreds

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While many people in Perryville enjoy their fair share of deer, quail, or even duck, their was plenty of more options Saturday.

The Perryville Elks Lodge held its annual Wildlife Dinner and event organizer Wayne Meyer said the event was a successful one.

“I thought we had a fair attendance and people spent a lot of money,” Meyer said. “The food was excellent, everyone got a door prize and they all seemed like they were having a good time.”

The meal is more than just your ordinary chicken, deer, and other game. The meal consisted of 12 different types of meat and game, including boar and antelope. The most popular item was turtle gumbo, according to Meyer.

“People were really impressed with it,” Meyer said. “but I like to try everything they offer there. I can’t tell you how many different things we’ve had over the years.”

However, the event was bittersweet for Meyer who has helped organize the event for the last 34 years. Saturday was his final time hosting the event.

“I’ve been having some health problems, and I’m just getting older,” Meyer said.

Meyer has organized the dinner since 1986, and something that he looks forward to every year.

“I just love the comraderie and talking with everyone that comes each year. I just love that kind of stuff,” Meyer said. “It was good for the community to come out and try something that they haven’t before.”

Meyer estimated that there was a little more than 300 people that came out and ate.

“That’s a good number for this event,” Meyer said. “It was pretty close to the number that we normally have. I just like to see everyone coming out and enjoying the meal.”

Along with the meal, the event also featured a pair of speakers including Perry County Conservation Agent Christopher Doran.

Among the topics that he spoke about were landowner tags, feral hogs, and the Chronic Wasting Disease among deer. Doran noted there were two cases found in Perry County and something that has caught the attention of people like Meyer.

“It’s an issue that has to be addressed,” he said. “Especially when it comes to people eating meat contaminated with CWD. I know I don’t want to eat that kind of meat.”

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death. Since 2012, there have been 141 cases of the condition found in Missouri.

As a not-for-profit organization, the Perryville Elks Lodge donates to a wide variety of different charities such as local scholarships, Backstoppers, Student of the Month awards, donations to local schools and veterans programs among several contributions.

“I think that is the best use of the money,” Meyer said.

For people like Elks secretary Renita Anderson, the dinner will never be the same without Meyer. So much so that Anderson noted that there may not be one next year.

“Unless someone steps up and wants to be the one to continue with the dinner and organize it, we are not sure if it will continue,” Anderson said.

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