If the Great East End Deer Cull goes forward as scheduled next month, federal sharpshooters will be creating a glut of deer meat on the Twin Forks. It’s a good thing the stuff is versatile.
At their annual Venison Festival this weekend, Southampton Elks Lodge #1574 will demonstrate the meat’s culinary cachet with all manner of deer delights, including venison shish kebab, wontons, quesadillas, chili and much more, served Friday – Sunday. Over nearly 20 years, this dinner and celebration of all things venison has grown into a much anticipated seasonal event. With all the talk of deer, sharpshooters, culling and.. ahem, lions… this year’s Venison Festival takes on special significance—and attendance may be quite strong.
“Every year it gets larger,” Elks Lodge bartender and past Exalted Ruler Dan Lachcik says. “Last year it was 13 deer, this year it’s 17—we’ve got it covered,” he continues, noting that the event, which is free and open to the public, should draw 75–100 people tonight (Friday), and “Saturday’s always jam-packed, they come all day.”
Lachcik, a lifelong Southampton resident and house painter, says Elks members created their popular annual event mostly out of midwinter boredom. “There’s no football on,” he points out, explaining that the Venison Festival is always the weekend before the Super Bowl because there are no games to watch.
Each year, the members “do everything,” including hunting the deer and preparing and cooking the meat. “It’s done 15 different ways,” Lachcik says, noting that Fellingham’s chef Kevin Fallo is doing most of the heavy lifting in the Elks Lodge kitchen.
The Southampton Elks Lodge #1574 Venison Festival begins serving at 4:30 p.m. Friday (January 24) and continues until closing. They are open from 3–6 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday from 1–6 p.m. A cash bar will be open all weekend and visitors will enjoy music from Keyboard Charlie on all three days.
While the event is free, the Southampton Elks accept and appreciate donations. The Southampton Elks Lodge is located 605 County Road 39 in Southampton. Call 631-287-1574 for more info.