(note: previously posted on www.thenastywench.wordpress.com…now in its new home at www.thenastywench.com)
The West Virginia Roadkill Cook-Off
Yes, Virginia, there is a Roadkill Cook-Off, this is a thing. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, along comes a rather unique annual cooking competition. I heard a rumor, I looked it up, it’s quite the event – not just a cook-off, it’s a festival.
The first rule – all entries must have, as their featured ingredient, any animal commonly found dead on the side of the road – groundhog, opossum, deer, rabbit, bear, crow, squirrel, snake, turkey, etc. No indication if you have to mow it down yourself or just scrape it off the side of the road and toss it in your trunk.
The second rule – preparation and cooking must be done on site but no gutting, skinning or cleaning on the grounds. So no, you can’t just drag the whole carcass on site and have at it – you’re not likely going to have time to prepare whatever you hit on the way to the fair.
The third rule specifies that serving to the public will begin at 10:30 am and only those members of the public who present wristbands should be served. Yes, wristbands. This is not a rock concert, this is a roadkill cook-off. The public will be voting on the coveted People’s Choice Award.
The rules go on to reference side dishes that may complement your dish – I will state categorically that I have absolutely no idea what goes with Squashed Opossum or Sautéed Snake. One of my favorite clarifications is that “All judges have been tested for cast-iron stomachs and have sworn under oath to have no vegetarian tendencies.” Not a lot of vegetarian roadkill to be had – quinoa rarely tries to cross the road and cabbage just sits there in the garden being all cabbagy (fuck off spell check).
I read a comment somewhere that points are deducted if the judges find asphalt or gravel in your dish but I couldn’t confirm that in the official rules so you’ll just have to take your chances with that one.
It doesn’t end with the cook-off, it’s a Festival. There’s a pageant – let that sink in for a moment, there is a Roadkill Cook-Off Pageant. A pageant with no less than 9 competition divisions – Infant, Tiny Miss, Little Miss, Junior Miss, Teen Miss, Miss, Ms, Mrs and Grandma. If your bucket list includes being crowned in a Roadkill Cook-Off Pageant, there are no age limitations. Given the theme of the festival, I’m surprised there isn’t a corpse division. If you accidentally mow Granny down in the back 40, can she compete?
It doesn’t end there – events include a biscuit bake off, a possum trot and county fair exhibits. This festival has been featured on the Food Network, the Travel Channel, the Discovery Channel and reviewed on Yelp….’cause, why not? By the way, 4 stars on Yelp…maybe it’s the opportunity to taste exotic dishes like squirrel gravy over biscuits. (Full disclosure here, I’ve been offered squirrel once before – by a man living in the wild who lifted the lid off his dinner pot with a bit of a flourish to display a completely intact skinned squirrel on a bed of rice asking if I’d like to stay for dinner…ummm, nope. But then, there were no biscuits either).
So, how do you like your armadillo – rare, medium or well done?
(ps….no idea if there are any armadillos in West Virginia or if you are permitted to prepare imported roadkill, just throwing that out there).
Only in ‘merica folks, only in ‘merica.
~ the nasty wench ~
update, unfortunately due to the pandemic, the 2020 Roadkill Cook-off was cancelled, keep your fingers crossed for 2021, here’s a selections of pictures from the 2019 festival including some of the pageant winners: