Crowd’s wild for game

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 2, 2011

Gary Nelson serves elk meat chili.

There were 10 cook teams dishing up delights like turkey toes, quail empanadas, elk chili, and red snapper fish tacos with mango habanera sauce at Thursday night’s Wild Game Cook Off.

Hunter Grimes, local organizer for the event sponsored by the Alabama Wildlife Federation and the Alabama National Guard, said each participating team was from the Andalusia area – including one couple that recently relocated here from Nevada.

“We had a great turnout for this year’s event,” Grimes said. “There was definitely something for everyone to sample here. I heard nothing but good things about the night’s selections.”

This year, the event boasted 150 sponsors – an increase from years past, he said.

Vanessa Shiver said it was the best one she’s ever attended after she was caught making her fourth trip to the Camp Creek Cooks table to nibble on homemade biscuits and fried deer. The group said last year the dish was such a hit they ran out in 15 minutes. This year, they came prepared and equipped with 180 biscuits.

“Boy, hmmmm. I just can’t stop eating it,” Shiver said.

Barbara and Gary Nelson, the couple originally from Nevada, delighted goers with their elk chili.

“Our son, who lives in Red Level, said, ‘Mom, you got to move from Nevada,’” Mrs. Nelson said. “Chili cook offs were big up there, and I nearly had gotten rid of all my pots in the move. I’m glad I didn’t. This was such fun.”

Mrs. Nelson said she loves the Andalusia area.

“What’s brown up there is green down here,” she said. “It’s great.”

Rhonda Ricks, who attended with her husband Ralph, said she enjoyed tasty dish prepared by the Swamp Monkeys – a flatbread topped with venison sausage, green peppers, onions and provolone cheese.

“It’s so different, but man, is it good,” she said.

Each year, those attending the cook off vote and choose the winner of the People’s Choice Award. For the second year in a row, the People’s Choice award went to Camp Creek Cookers.

Overall winner for the event was Smoking Ashes for their “South of the Border Cornbread.”

In the fish category, winners were: Massey Automotive, first place; Slick Lizards, second place; and Smoking Ashes, third place.

In the fowl category, winners were: Fuzzy Feathers, first place; Smoking Ashes, second place; and third place, Swamp Monkeys.

In the game category, winners were: Smoking Ashes, first place; Southeast Alabama Gas District’s “Wild Ones,” second place; and Massey Automotive, third place.

Camp Creek Cookers won for best presentation, and the runner up-was Massey Automotive.