DANVILLE — The 2012 Danville Lions Club Raccoon Dinner will be held Monday, Feb. 6, at the St. Luke’s Community Center, located immediately behind the Danville St. Luke’s Catholic Church. The meal will be served from 5 until 7:30 p.m. on a first come, first served basis.
At 7p.m., the Danville Jazz Band will perform for the attendees across the street from the Community Center in the high school auditorium. The main event will follow the band at 8 p.m. with a presentation by former OSU football star Matt Finkes. A raffle drawing for a shotgun will be held at the end of the program.
Clyde Banbury and Clyde Cornell started the first Raccoon Dinner. The meal was served in Banbury’s basement with 30 in attendance. After a few years, the annual dinner was moved to the elementary building at the school cafeteria since the interest in attending was dramatically increasing. As the event evolved, guest speakers were included as part of the program. There have been many notable speakers such as Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes, OSU head coaches Woody Hayes and John Cooper, Gordy Coleman (Cincinnati Reds), Jerry Razor (newscaster), Ed Johnson, Steve Newman, Andy Geiger, Bill Conley, Craig Krenzel, Greg Frey, Katie Smith, and many more. The largest attendance to the event was over 800 people.
At the dinner, over 600 pounds of raccoon is served as the entree is coupled with a full course setting of mashed potatoes, dressing, mixed vegetables, raccoon gravy, cake, and a generous serving of fresh homemade cornbread. A limited amount of ham is prepared for those wishing to attend whose health may not permit them to consume the raccoon.
Participants come from all over the United States and Canada to attend this famous event. Past events have seen a gentleman fly up from Missouri in his airplane just for the dinner and a newspaper editor come from Pennsylvania attending to enjoy the unique cuisine. Last year the event had visitors from Egypt.
The 73-year-old Danville Lions Club, chartered in 1939, was sponsored jointly by the Fredericktown and Mount Vernon Lions Clubs. Since the beginning, the club has truly lived up to the Lions Motto “We Serve.” They have sponsored and facilitated many hundreds of fundraising events and service projects to help the Danville area community and its citizens.
Matt Finkes was a four-year football letterman for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the mid-90’s, earning All-Big Ten and All American honors three of those years. He was part of two Big Ten championship teams and a member of the 1997 Rose Bowl Champions. After being selected in the NFL draft, he went on to play four years as a professional for the New York Jets, Washington Redskins, and Jacksonville Jaguars. Upon retiring, he concentrated his entrepreneurial efforts as part of the family construction business and expanding into the self-storage industry and real estate development, all of which remain successful and strong members of the business community.
However, for Finkes, the calling of the sports world remained. During his time as a high school football coach, he has been a member of the 2007 Div II state champions and multiple playoff teams. As a high-school wrestling coach, he has mentored numerous individual state champions as well as five team state titles and two national titles. His current endeavor involve the personal coaching of student athletes towards their goals of championships and scholarships. He has mentored seventeen Division I athletes over the past three years and numerous players at the Division II, and III levels and continues to help kids reach the highest levels of competition
For information about the Raccoon Dinner, contact the Knox County CVB at (740) 392-6102.