St. Luke A.M.E. Church offers Wild Feast
by Marie Nesmith
Feb 15, 2012 | 2832 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Continuing the long-standing tradition of the Wild Feast, Joy Hill is coordinating the event that her late father, the Rev. Matthew D. Hill, helped spearhead at St. Luke A.M.E. Church. On Sunday, the free gathering, which will be open to the public, will immediately follow the 11 a.m. service at the Cartersville church located at 130 Jones St.

"I remember daddy started the Wild Feast with two other women in the church," Hill said about her father, a retired Cartersville educator and school board member, who passed away in 2009. "And it was because he always had a love of wild game. He would often take possum and raccoon or squirrel or whatever to the middle school when he was an assistant principal there and let his students taste it, let some of the staff taste it. After a while students started bringing him wild game. It would be dead but it wouldn't be ready to eat. And oftentimes whenever somebody ran over something, they would give him something. And then sometimes when they would hunt for stuff, they would bring him [the wild game].

"So it became such a very well-known fact that he liked this wild game that he and these two other ladies at the church, at St. Luke, decided that they would have an annual Wild Feast day. I honestly do not know the first year that he started it, but I'm going to say probably about 30 years [ago]. ... I didn't know it at the time but he was grooming me [to one day coordinate] it because amazingly I can cook the food. Luckily, I have a lot of help and don't have to cook it all by myself but if push came to shove and I had to, I could. All those years sitting in the kitchen watching him and being out there when people were cleaning the animals and gutting them, I [now] know how to do it. I thought I was just hanging out with my daddy but in actuality he was grooming me for this."

At the Wild Feast, diners will be able to sample a variety of wild game, including deer, rabbit, squirrel, goat and raccoon. For Hill, watching people try new foods can be a fun experience.

"It really is hilarious," she said. "What we do is label the food so everybody knows what they're going to get. They just don't know what it's going to taste like. But I'll tell you, everything except for seafood either tastes like chicken, beef or pork."

In addition to the feast, the event also will feature guest speaker Derrick Buford. Currently in the process of penning his speech, the Ohio resident said he may touch on black history and the Wild Feast's background in addition to sharing details about his life and ties to Cartersville.

"My parents are actually from [Bartow County]," Buford said. "My mom is from Cartersville. My dad's from Emerson. My mom passed away when I was young, when I was about 8 years old. So I haven't actually been back there for roughly almost 40 years. Joy's actually my first cousin. Her dad is my uncle, which was my mom's brother.

"We just got back in touch with each other last year because I did 24 years in the Navy. I retired. Then I moved from Virginia to up here to Cleveland and started a security company. So basically what I'm going to be probably talking about is just ... where I've been, who I am."

For more information about the Wild Feast, contact Hill at 770-873-3146.