DANVILLE — They came from all over: Mansfield, Newark, Mount Vernon, Lancaster, Put-In-Bay, Pittsburgh, even Arizona, new Jersey and Washington. More than 500 people passed through the doors of the St. Luke Community Center in Danville to enjoy the 68th annual Danville Lions Club Raccoon Dinner.
“It’s awesome,” said young Luke Sherman of Utica, enjoying the dinner with his parents and sister.
“I’ve been coming the last 20 years,” said Vince Sherman. “My dad brought me so I started bringing my kids. They wouldn’t miss it. Every year I ask if they want to go and they say yes.”
“It’s delicious,” said John Shults of Danville. “It’s a good meal and they fill you up.”
“I can tell you it doesn’t taste like chicken,” said Aaron Sapp of Danville. “Sort of a gamey beef, but more tender.”
“There’s no description for it. I eat a lot of strange things and it’s good,” said Les Harmeyer of Mount Vernon, who was at his second raccoon dinner, having recently moved here from Illinois.
“Curiosity brought me the first time,” he said. “It was good and I couldn’t wait to come back. It’s a lot like pot roast.”
Jerry Statzer and his father, A.D. Statzer of Fredericktown, have been coming since the early 1960s.
“The food’s always good, the Lions do a great job,” Jerry said. “It tastes like wild game; something between deer and wild rabbit. It’s tender, they do a great job of preparing it.”
Following the dinner, former Ohio State University All-American football player Matt Finkes spoke in the high school auditorium across the street.
Finkes told stories about his days as a player at Ohio State and in the National Football League, where he played for the New York Jets, Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars. The stories illustrated how he found out the truth of what a coach told him: Set goals, prepare for those goals and then execute.