CITY OF DELAFIELD - Turnout did not disappoint at this year's 92nd annual Coon Feed, which continued to draw regulars and new diners to the American Legion Post 196 building on Jan. 27.
The Legion sold 317 plates — almost 90 raccoons worth of meat — with little left over, according to American Legion Post Commander Terry Frazier.
He estimates the event raised about $5,000, which is average for the last few years. The Legion donates to various youth programs around the area, and partners with Boy Scout Troop 49 in Summit.
"It was very successful," Frazier said. "We sold every single T-shirt, even ones from previous years. I heard we might be a little over $5,000, but we won't have the exact results until our February meeting."
The Coon Feed brings together people from all over Lake Country, many with their own traditions.
"There is a group of doctors who work in Summit, and each time one of them gets engaged they start their bachelor party here," said Mark Coriat, the post adjutant. "After 92 years, people are still coming. It is a community event. It's not like a restaurant where you have your own table. You sit with your neighbors and friends."
Aleda and Dan Bourassa of Oconomowoc have been coming to the event for the past five years.
"The first time we came, the woman married to the man who started it was here (Lillian McNulty), and she gave a talk, and we thought 'wow, this is really something,' " Aleda Bourassa said. "We're from Oconomowoc, land of the raccoons. We won't kill them there, but I guess we will come and eat it if they prepare it out here."
The event was started by Tom McNulty in the 1920s. This was the first Coon Feed without the attendance of Lillian McNulty, who died in October at age 94.
"The raccoon this year was as good as we've ever had it," Dan Bourassa said. "It tastes kind of like venison, but it has its own unique taste. It's very succulent and flavorful."
The American Legion Post prepares the raccoon meat in a slow cooker with vegetables and uses a secret recipe of seasonings.
Michelle Flores-Herrero and her husband, Abram, love the raccoon meat so much that they take some home ... and make raccoon pizza.
Flores-Herrero said she and Abram usually take one or two containers to go filled with raccoon to make the pizza.
This year was Michelle and Abram's eighth Coon Feed. They loved it so much that for four years they traveled as far as Chicago to eat the "delicious dinner." They have since moved to Madison and have yet to miss one.
"We love seeing the familiar and friendly faces we see only once a year," Flores-Herrero said. "It's a yearly highlight and we try to put the word out about this event, and who it honors as much as possible.
"We were saddened that this was the first year without Mrs. McNulty and knew it would be that much more meaningful and important to attend."
While Michelle and Abram are now regulars, there are still newcomers who try the rare meat for the first time. Each time there was a first-timer, Coriat would ring a bell to announce the "raccoon virgin."
Rob Tobias and his daughter Karissa from Delafield were among the first-timers.
"We've lived in Delafield for 17 years and have never come," Rob Tobias said. "This year my son is working with the Boy Scouts, so I thought I would come in and try some.
"It's good. I'm happy we came."