Eat Wild! 6 WV places to try unique game dishes

Our state has no shortage of local, wild food– foragers know all about our ramps, berries, and mushrooms. But what about the meat?

In addition to plenty of locally-raised chicken, turkey, pork, beef and more, West Virginia harbors a huge variety of wild and delicious fish and game: venison, rabbit, fowl, trout and even bear, squirrel and possum for the more adventurous eaters.

Whether restaurants or festivals, here are 6 of the best places to get that wild and wonderful flavor around the Mountain State.

1. Roadkill Cook-Off

September, Pocahontas County

Don’t be put off by the less-than-flattering name. The WV Roadkill Cook-off has it all– pageantry, competitions and of course meal tickets for those of us who want to sample the fare chefs have entered into the contest.

The food is so unique that it’s been featured on national television stations like Discovery, the Travel Channel and Food Network. If you ever wanted to try biscuits with squirrel gravy, bear sausage or venison braised with local mushrooms, this is the place to be.

2. Wild Game Festival

Late fall-winter, Shepherdstown

Every year, the Bavarian Inn’s renowned chef creates a “wild game festival” seasonal menu in the fall and early winter. Sausages hold a special place here, with venison and boar sausage making appearances every year. Don’t miss the elk tenderloin, rabbit, quail or pheasant, either.

Cast-Iron Cook-off dishes3. Cast-Iron Cook-Off

February, Charleston

The Cast-Iron Cook-Off is the premiere competition for top Appalachian chefs. It celebrates regional cooking, giving it true gourmet legitimacy. Competitors from West Virginia and beyond use local ingredients, while transcending traditional, normal recipes. Although ingredients vary, the best chefs from around West Virginia will be competing, and wild game is sure to make an appearance.  

4. Wild Game Cook-Off

October, White Sulphur Springs

Expect some top-notch cuisine since White Sulphur Springs Main Street’s regional cook-off includes famed chefs from its hometown culinary gem, The Greenbrier. Using at least one local ingredient, they craft game-centric creations as wild as fried frog legs and bear ribs.

WV's wild game events5. Squirrel Fest

November, Augusta

Bring a dish to share if you plan to eat at this community feast in Hampshire County. Plenty of folks’ll have squirrel fixin’s to serve up in return. Take tours of the farm or listen to the bluegrass sounds while the kids enjoy the hayrides and games. If you’re too full to move much, you can even camp out around the bonfire after the meal.

6. Critter Dinner, Dunbar

February, Dunbar

Everything from trout to quail to opossum might be on the menu at this unusual animal feast in Dunbar. The annual community meal is a chance to taste a variety of traditional dishes— or just get some good ol’ country-cooked chicken, if you’re not as adventurous an eater.

What wild WV game have you tried?

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This post was last updated on July 21, 2020