GILLETT, Ark – Tonight’s 71st annual Gillett Coon Supper will use a main meat other than raccoon for the first time in the event’s history due to a large shortage of the animal in south east Arkansas.
Officials say the decision was made to substitute opossums for the raccoons earlier this week. The annual dinner brings around 600 politicians, celebrities, and influential people from around the state to the small south east Arkansas town. The raccoons are typically purchased from local trappers, however as of last week trappers caught only 27 of the over 3,000 needed animals.
“We realized we were not going to make it, so we had to come up with a quick decision,” Chad Philipp, President of The Gillett Farmers and Businessmen’s Club tells us. “We wanted to keep the event unique, so that ruled out most common meats. The only other animal we could capture in the numbers required and still maintain originality were opossums.”
The Gillett Farmers and Businessmen’s Club hosts the 71st annual Coon Supper held in the Gillett Elementary Gymnasium. The supper will serve an estimated 2,000 lbs of barbecued opossum meat. Proceeds from the supper, which cost $20 a ticket, goes to provide two $750 scholarships to graduating seniors from Gillett high school.
The Coon Supper began in 1947 and has grown in size each year. This year will include an after party honoring the legacy of Lt. Governor Mark Darr.