Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Oh Yeah, Oysters at the McGehee Oyster Supper.
It's those community members who come together the first Friday in February each year to celebrate that community and help fund all sorts of projects in the area with the annual McGehee Men's Club Oyster Supper.
Unlike a similar annual affair in Slovak, the McGehee soiree is open to everyone - men and women, adults and children alike. They all head out to the McGehee Community Center by the airport with the intent of having a good time... which is almost certainly going to happen.
Andy Gill, one of the founding members and current president of the Men's Club, showed me around and shared with me the history of the supper. It started in 1995 with just 200 people in attendance, and has worked its way up to a 1200+ person event. The proceeds go to several organizations and to funding an annual scholarship program.
He took me through the large kitchen area -- an impressive bay of individuals preparing the repast. At one small island of tables, bowls of the soaked Italian salad, cocktail sauce and horseradish were being dolled out. The recipes for the salad and the cocktail sauce come from the event.
A young man fetching more oysters from the cooler mentioned these were the largest oysters they've seen in some time. Indeed, some of the ones I saw were the diameter of a golf ball.
Gill showed me the pallet of fresh catfish fillets, just brought up from Macon, MS. There was also the batter, which is made up by a guy in Vicksburg (who I later learned also makes the batter for items at Buffalo Wild Wings and other
places as well). Gill told me what was left over at the end of the evening would be donated to the local Boy Scouts to use in their annual dinner a few weeks later.
He pointed out the standing cooler full of fries, situated at the end of a long bank of deep fryers, impressive in its size, where a line of men were carefully watching over baskets of oysters, catfish and fries. At a
series of long tables parallel to the fryers were men working through their tasks, whether it was battering catfish or oysters. I noted both catfish and oysters were set into single layers in their fryer baskets, that they were watched tightly and that they were immediately turned out to drain and taken straight away to the line for service, very hot, very fresh.
Oysters are served two different ways at the supper, raw and fried, alongside the catfish and fries, Italian salad and condiments. Beer is
That's a lot of oysters, catfish, fries and beer... and not only has it managed to help out students attending college, it's also what made it possible for the Men's Club to purchase this building for the town. See, the big building used to house a Budweiser distributorship, and when the economy got bad, the company pulled out and the building was vacant. Funds raised at the annual supper allowed the club to buy it and open it
Mind you, that line I was telling you about? When it's busy, the line can stretch out the door and it
And when you get to the front, you get to fill your plate, select a beverage and find a seat.
And this is what you can expect.
I didn't find a pearl in my oyster, but let me tell you what... I have eaten oysters all over the south, and these are some of the best I
I ate three dozen fried oysters and a dozen raw. I don't deny that. I paid for it later, by goodness, but at the time it was the best thing I'd had in my mouth in at least a week.
Strangely enough, there's more I need to tell you. For one, at eight the line's about done and the raffle winners are announced.
You Are My Sunshine." The whole crowd joins in on the chorus.
Each ticket bought for the supper entitles the bearer to one chance at winning a shotgun, this year a Ruger 10-22 Rifle. It went to Mary Jagger. Another $20 ticket can be purchased for chances at other guns.
We had originally intended to drop in, dine and go (which you can do, if you just hit the takeout line for your oysters to take home), but
The McGehee Oyster
McGehee Men's Club on Facebook.