February 9th was supposed to be the 28th Annual Wild Game Dinner at the Open Door Baptist Church in New Woodstock, NY. Attendees bring their favorite wild game dishes to share with others. The game dinner serves snake, deer, bear, squirrel, woodchuck, goose, rabbit and yes, even crow. The event draws roughly 300-400 participants. Unfortunately, after 27 previous dinners, the Madison County Department of Health decided to shut this year’s dinner down.
The evening of the meal, the Health Department stopped by the church. Upon arrival, a county representative said the food must be removed immediately – including some 50 pies ladies of the church had baked. The Health Department’s contention stemmed from the fact that the dishes were prepared at home. The dinner has been publicly advertised. Though no money had changed hands, it could not be verified that the meals were cooked according to public health code regulations. The County Health Department was concerned that the pot luck could place the public at risk.
The church pot luck has always been a part of our history. To my knowledge no one has ever died after eating Aunt Mable’s homemade macaroni casserole (although there was been on occasion some wicked repercussions after eating Uncle Earl’s bacon-baked beans). Still, I suppose it’s a good thing that there was no Health Department around for that first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims invited the American Indians over for pheasant as they gave thanks for God’s provision.
It is reports like these that cause me to wonder what kind of a people we even are anymore. There was a time when Americans believed in and exercised common sense. We believed in self-governance and didn’t need some bloated bureaucracy to dictate where and how pot lucks could be prepared. How did we ever survive?
Thomas Jefferson, in his first Inaugural Address said, “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.” Jefferson understood that there has to be some level of trust in self-governance. If we cannot be trusted (and responsible) to care for ourselves, then we will most certainly find ourselves serving under oppressive tyrants again.
Despite the dinner let down, coffee was served after a turkey hunting talk and a clear presentation of the Gospel. On site reports confirm that the coffee was boiled and safe to drink. We’d hate to think what dangers lurk in partially-percolated caffeinated beverages.