Fundraiser in Unity to include unusual dishes such as moose calzones

Posted April 11, 2011, at 6:45 p.m.

UNITY, Maine — Barbecued beaver, bear meatloaf and moose calzones? Call it dinner.

Those unusual delicacies and much, much more will be featured Friday on one special menu — that of Unity College’s fifth annual Sportsmen’s Conference and Wild Game Dinner.

Event founder Joe Saltalamachia said it would be a night to remember and would feature “one heck” of an art show and charity auction along with all that game meat.

The work of woodcarvers Andrew Rice and James Irish and bronze sculptor Forest Hart will be on display.

“It’s been fantastic,” Saltalamachia said of the annual event.

All proceeds from the evening, which has raised as much as $5,000 in the past, will be split among four charitable organizations: Operation Game Thief; the Maine Warden Service Association, in honor of pilot Daryl Gordon; Catch-A-Dream and Hunt of a Lifetime.

Saltalamachia, associate director of admissions at Unity College, said the wild game dinner actually began eight years ago, though the event took place the first few years without the fancy title.

“The reason I got this started way back when is that I hunt a lot. I’ve been eating wild game since I was a baby, basically, and if you eat a lot of it you’ve got to learn how to prepare it,” he said. “I want people to know that the majority of hunters nationwide utilize the game that they kill. That whole wanton waste thing — we don’t do that.”

The dinner has been extremely successful in letting people know that things that sound weird can actually be delicious, he said. In fact, it has been so successful that some years it can be hard to procure enough beaver for the dinner, as trappers realize the frozen meat they have happily donated to the cause is something they might rather prepare at home.

“One of the most-requested dishes we have is the beaver,” Saltalamachia said. “The beaver will go fast.”

This year, a Unity College alum from Connecticut has saved seven carcasses for the event, which will be prepared and served as an appetizer.

Others contributing game this year include Matt Dunlap, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, who is donating bear, moose and deer, and Gerry LaVigne, the former deer biologist for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, who is donating smoked game.

That includes bear pepperoni and venison hot dogs, Saltalamachia said.

The dinner will be a sit-down meal, with students serving as waitstaff, and although there will be plenty of hunters and sportsmen in attendance, they won’t be alone.

Diners come from all over the state, and even from around New England, with nonhunters making up about half of the room.

“We’ve had very positive feedback,” he said.

The fifth annual Sportsmen’s Conference and Wild Game Dinner will begin with appetizers served at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts at 4 Depot St. in Unity.

Tickets are $15 for students, $20 for regular seating, $25 for VIP, which includes preferred seating and a bottle of wine per table.

For more information or to purchase tickets call 948-7469 or email show@unitymaine.org.

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