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Wild game feed lures attendees from Idaho

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Wild game feed lures attendees from Idaho

Second generation volunteer Nick Green, left, helps take the smoked halibut pieces off the grill during Friday’s 35th Annual Costa Wild Game Feed held at Manteca Camper and Trailer.

HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin/

POSTED December 9, 2017 12:41 a.m.

They came from places like Idaho and Oregon – some driving all night to make sure they were there by the time the doors opened.
Whether it was for the wild game cooked up in new and interesting ways – bear burgers, salmon and halibut steaks, pheasant bites and more – or for the sense of community that comes from being around other sportsmen, the draw of the annual Costa’s Wild Game Feed and Christmas Party was as strong as ever Friday morning at Manteca Trailer and RV with hundreds of people waiting outside in the cold for the fun to begin.
“You get a little busy on this day running around and making sure that everything is perfect, but seeing everybody have a good time means that all of the work that went into this is worth it,” said Jim Costa, who was there when his father organized the first 35 years ago and has slowly watched it grow ever since. “There’s definitely a sense of community amongst the people who come here ever year, for a lot of people this is a chance to see faces they might not see very often.
“And it’s all for a good cause.”
For more than two decades, Robin Taberna has been a staple in the preparation area grilling up hamburgers made from elk, venison and more – manning the cooking surface with his brother Tommy and molding patties with other family members who traveled to participate.
With his older brother Larry helping out, Taberna helped form up patties with Bill Casey who drove up from San Felipe, and Joe Grijalva who left the house in Fresno early to make sure he was there on time, and spent his Friday morning doing something that he’s been doing for 25 years – marveling at how the event seems to grow year-after-year.
“I remember when we moved over to this building there wasn’t enough space where we were at – there wasn’t any overhang outside either, so we’d be outside cooking in the rain,” Taberna said with a laugh. “This is something that I look forward to all year, and it’s great knowing that the work that is going into this is going to a good cause – to help people who really need it during the holidays.”
According to Costa, a separate committee takes care of all of the arrangements for dispersing the donations – $15 per person was asked for this year, but nobody was turned away – to families in the community that are networked through local churches and might not otherwise have the chance to celebrate Christmas any other way.
That element alone – that the effort is benefitting families who need the help – was enough for Modestan Ben Valverde to donate his time to help fry wild turkeys that he had bagged up in the foothills this past season.
For the last 10 years Valvrede has been a part of the morning crew that shows up before dawn to set everything up and start cooking up the feast that will feed more than 1,000 people throughout the day – turned onto the idea by Costa who he met through a San Joaquin County group of outdoor enthusiasts.
“The camaraderie is a big part of what makes this special, and I’m glad to be down here helping out,” Valverde said. “You know that your effort is going to a good cause and you’re getting to share a little bit of something that you love with other people.
“It’s a win-win for everybody, and it’s something that’s unique to this area.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.

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