A Celebration of Florida Fun and Food at the Annual Fundraiser
From fried dill pickles, to sweet potato fries, to venison tacos, this year’s 11th Annual Beast Feast and Auction was quite the culinary success. Living up to its name, the Beast Feast had countless varieties of exotic foods and a great string band, to boot. People of all ages and backgrounds came together to celebrate the southern lifestyle, focusing on raising money for the one-of-a-kind Florida FFA Leadership Training Center. “This center enables our students to come here inexpensively for fellowship, teambuilding, and a general great time,” says Tim Lopez, Chairman of the Beast Feast. “The money raised at this fundraiser goes back to what’s really important: educating our students and supporting our center.”
The Beast Feast also houses a silent and live auction with an impressive variety of items and trips. Some examples include livestock feed and supplies, amusement park tickets, jewelry, art, and kayaks. The big-ticket trips were an African safari and a dove-hunting trip in Argentina. The event also had drawings worth $2,500 in value. Who doesn’t love that?
Anthony Crain and Mike Boyette, Suwannee FFA members and the culinary artisans behind the magnanimous sweet potato fries and delicious homemade chicken tenders have been cooking for the Beast Feast for three years now. “Everybody loves it, says Crain. “Our homemade BBQ sauce is always a hit.” Scrumptious fried gator, boiled corn, fried conch fritters, swamp cabbage, and a BBQ’d whole pig were only some of the delightful southern-inspired examples showcased at this year’s event. Full plates and happy stomachs really put the feast in Beast Feast.
“The Beast Feast gives a chance for alumni to return and the community to come out,” says Gary Bartley, executive director of the Florida FFA Foundation. “What started out as raising money for our mortgage turned into a really good fundraiser.”
The Florida FFA Leadership Training Center, home of the Beast Feast and Auction, is right off of Highway 542 on Firetower Road near Haines City. Other than occasional events, the LTC hosts a variety of conferences, meetings, and workshops for the FFA and other organizations. With a beautiful backdrop of Lake Pierce and Bok Tower in the distance, it is hard not to love old Florida like this.
This year’s Beast Feast and Auction was a good eating, money raising good time. If homemade ice cream, beef bites, fried okra, homemade macaroni and cheese, or fried green tomatoes doesn’t get you to come out, well there’s always Cow Poop Bingo or an auction to go to!
by KATE MARTIN
To see more of our photos of the 2014 Beast Feast, visit our photo gallery!