Rack of raccoon, smear of deer, and a side dish of awesome possum doesn’t necessarily sound like your normal, common table fair provided at a nationally recognized event, but that’s exactly what you can expect at this year’s annual Roadkill Cook-off in Marlinton, WV. Certainly not a black tie affair, the cook-off features local grill masters making due with ingredients that at one point in time involved a vehicle, a road, and one unlucky or suicidal critter.
Given our area’s rural landscape and snaking road systems, the likelihood that one of our state’s native animals will end up on the side of the road with all fours pointing to the sky is fairly high. Coupled with the WV legislature’s decision in 1998 to make it legal to salvage recent roadkill, an alternate table cuisine and culture slowly began to flourish in the WV hills.
Q: How many people does it take to eat a roadkill possum? A: Three. Two to do it and one to watch for cars.
Wild animals, the primary constituent of roadkill, are usually lower in calories and saturated fat than domestic meat, while being higher in Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and slightly lower in overall fat. Best of all, sans the vehicle insurance premium, roadkill is typically a very cost effective means of putting food on the table compared to the ever escalating prices found at your local grocery store.
Part of the Pocohantas County Autumn Festival, the Roadkill Cook-off brings focus to the many ways and ingredients that one can use to prepare a freshly deceased wild animal. Groundhog, deer, rabbit, squirrel, snake, and mole are a few of the wild animals that may be presented at the event. Occasionally, a domestic animal, such as a pig or chicken, jumps a fence and finds itself staring down a pair of headlights, which also are fair game when it comes to the cook-off.
Pre-registration is required for all of the cook-off contestants, with a 15’ x 15’ space provided for each vendor Cooking begins at 11 am or earlier, with samples being provided to guests starting at noon. Judging of the recipes will begin at 2pm.. The judges reserve the right to deduct points for every chipped tooth resulting from gravel not removed from the roadkill.
Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners and are as follows: 1st place- $1000, 2nd place -$450, and 3rd place- $225. A $50 gift certificate will be given to the Best in Show. For more information, please contact the Pocahontas County Visitor’s Bureau or on the web: http://www.pccocwv.com/roadkill_cookoff_and_festival.html
– Craig Miller, LBSPY #16