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Hunters share bounty

A wild game feast isn’t a wild game feast without hunters sharing their bounty.

Because of that, the menu varies from year to year at the Altoona Alliance Church’s Wild Game Feast.

Although the church always has sufficient game, it is becoming more challenging, said Sharon Rydbom, who is in charge of food preparation.

“It takes a lot of meat to feed 400 to 450 people,” she said.

Rydbom said one of the church’s donors, who hunted in the west and elsewhere, has moved out of the area. She said he helped to provide a variety for the table, including wild boar and alligator.

This year’s menu for the March 21 event is expected to include bear, venison, pheasant, wild turkey and rabbit as well as domestic turkey, hot dogs, sides and desserts.

Rydbom said the church is willing to take a variety of donations from hunters at any time, because it can store the meat in its freezers until preparations begin.

Getting the meal ready takes a full week with Rydbom, Diana Rabold and Faith Wolfe swinging into action. Rydbom, who is a retired nurse, said she always took vacation to get ready for the dinner and Wolfe is now doing the same.

“There’s a lot of sacrifices that go on behind the scenes,” said Rydbom, who credited other church volunteers with helping out by donating their specialties.

Randy Rydbom makes pheasant soup, Brenda McGarvey prepares venison meatballs and Joyce and Tom O’Shell contribute rabbit pot pie.

“It’s a big hit,” said Rydbom of the pot pie, adding that it is a labor of love for the O’Shells.

It takes about 80 to 100 rabbits to make the dish, and they have to pick all the bones off the meat, she said.

“Joyce cans all that rabbit and that’s how she gets all that broth,” Rydbom said.

Outside the kitchen, about 50 church volunteers assist in various capacities, such as serving, making desserts, parking, set-up and tear-down, ticket sales and more.

“The dinner offers a good speaker and good food. We keep selling out every year,” said Pastor Tim McGarvey of Altoona Alliance Church.

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