"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Wild Game Cookout at the State Fair
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

If you are thinking about lunch a couple of weeks down the road, write “LASF” on the August 14 space on your calendar. That translates into “Lunch At State Fair,” and its best feature lies in the fact that the menu is strictly wild game and fish, not to mention that Hoosierland’s outdoorsy folks will pick up the tab.

Since its inception, the first Saturday of the State Fair has been the date for the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) and more specifically the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s annual “Wild Game Cookout.”

Nobody seems to know exactly how many years it has been going on, but it was launched nearly 15 years ago with the purpose of calling the attention of Hoosiers to the fact that hunting and fishing--and their residuals--are a big thing for the state.

It started slowly, but has gained momentum over the years and last year estimates placed the number of diners at more than 2,000. Estimates have been more that 1,500 for several years.

Actually, it is not free. Sportsmen’s organizations of the state and the Division of Fish and Wildlife absorb the cost, which must be considerable, in the name of proving to the public that hunting and fishing--among other things--provide tons of great food. To prove their point, representatives of participating organizations and the DFW arrive with the sun on the day of the big feed, and by 11 a.m. they are ready to serve, both literally and figuratively. 

At this point it would be next to impossible to list participating organizations and the “dishes” they concoct behind the Fairgrounds’ Natural Resources Building. But it is safe to say the Northern Indiana Steelheaders will tickle lots of palates with both pan-fried and broiled trout and salmon, not to mention the fact that Dick Mercier’s Sportsmen’s Roundtable will stop as many grumbling tummies with the old-favorite “creek bank taters.”

And that’s only a good start. There are turkey K-bobs, venison chili, burgers, beaver barbeque, to name a few more tantalizing treats, and fellowship you wouldn’t believe.

Chow lines start forming about 10:30 at the rear of the DNR building as the aroma of cooked wild things wafts over the northwest corner of the racetrack, and when the green flag is waved at 11 a.m. folks start savoring the delightful dishes of the wild chefs. It winds up when the food is gone so don’t be late.

Click on thumbnail image to view enlarged photo.
[Photos provided by John Maxwell, Indiana DNR]

flip.JPG (51544 bytes) Rick Gibbony, Brownsburg, and Tom Harriett, flip a flat of creek bank taters at the 2003 Wild Game Cookout.
trybeaver.jpg (45389 bytes) Nancy Mahoney, Columbus, serves barbequed beaver at the 2003 Wild Game Cookout.
taters.JPG (35268 bytes) Dick Mercier, president of the Indiana Sportsmen's Roundtable, samples the creek bank taters.
taters1.JPG (27562 bytes) A close encounter with a plate of creek bank taters.
chowline.JPG (51714 bytes) Jim Mahoney (foreground), Columbus, helps diners through the chow line.
grillit2.JPG (58165 bytes) The grill of the Northern Indiana Trout/Salmon Association turns out delicious trout and salmon fare.


Jon Marshall, affable and energetic chief of the DFW’s public information section for several years, Monday (August 2, 2004) announced his departure for D.J. Case & Associates, a Mishawaka based conservation and natural resources communications firm.

Marshall, who brought numerous innovations to the DFW’s public information setup, announced his departure to fellow DFW employees as follows:

“With a gut-wrenching mixture of apprehension and excitement, I am resigning my public affairs position with the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife to pursue conservation communication work with D.J. Case & Associates.

“I would be more apprehensive about the move if it was not for the fact that I will be able to continue working with the Indiana DNR team as a partner. I will also be able to expand my knowledge and reach by working with conservation agencies and organizations throughout the nation.

“D.J. Case & Associates is a dedicated and talented team of conservation communicators.  Many of you who have worked with Dave Case, Phil Seng, Gwen White and Tim Longwell will attest to their drive and creativity.

“I have seen a number of these 'goodbye' emails from co-workers that mentioned greener pastures (green = $). This move is not about money.  I owe a great deal to the Indiana DNR team. I feel that I have only given back a fraction of what I have gained in knowledge and livelihood.  I hope to continue contributing to natural resource conservation programs here in Indiana.”

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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