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ONE WILD HOLIDAY TRADITION

More than 1,000 partake of Costa’s game feed

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POSTED December 15, 2012 1:13 a.m.

With a plate in hand and a heavy appetite, Scott Bradley was ready for the unique fixings of the annual Costa’s Wild Game Feed Friday at Manteca Trailer and Camper.

There was deer. There was bear. There was pheasant, chukkar, duck, geese and quail.

And while Bradley – a sportsman himself that had a good season – was looking forward to sampling some of the wares that you don’t usually find all concentrated in one place, it’s the camaraderie with friends and other like-minded souls that he really craved.

“It’s a chance to get together and give back to the community together – there’s camaraderie here among other hunters and ranchers in the area,” he said. “I think that the community could benefit from more events like this – it gives people a chance to get together and help out the less fortunate in their times of need.”

It’s been 30 years since Jim and Jesse Costa’s father first put together a Christmas dinner for an employee that had fallen on hard times during the holidays – facing the huge task of caring for 10 kids on his own during a time of year when family means everything. It has since blossomed into an event attracting more than 1,000 people with the proceeds helping multiple families who are struggling during the holidays.

It all started with a couple of fixed up bikes, some toys and a dinner of wild game that the family had stocked up on throughout the year.

It has since blossomed into a full-blown community affair that raises as much as $10,000 to help needy families during the holidays – with thousands of people coming from as far away as Colorado and Nevada and even Canada that come to see old friends and enjoy the take of Central Valley sportsmen that stockpile their bounty.

For Jesse Costa it’s the event as a whole that he personally enjoys – the laughing and the joking and of course the food. It’s a time, he says, for people to come together and enjoy one another’s company while helping others.

“This is something that really pulls the community together and we’re grateful for that,” Costa said. “There’s really no one thing that I can pick over any other that I like. It’s the whole event – everybody coming together to help out the people that really need it this time of year.

“Everybody really pitches in to make this thing happen.”

People like Ken Hicken whose goose-breast jalapeno wraps were a huge hit among not only those who came to grab a plate but those in the back bays of the business that spent the morning cooking the food for people to enjoy.

It was the second meal that Hicken was cooking Friday when he arrived just before noon – spending his morning cooking a turkey dinner for the Sconza Candy Company in Oakdale.

But the food at the Costa’s event was special to him. The meat on the grill was speckle-bellied goose that he and his son shot during their annual trip to Canada. He marinated the meat and then melded it with hollowed-out jalapenos and cream cheese before wrapping it in bacon and grilling it up.

Prep work, he said, started the night before.

“It’s definitely something that I enjoy doing – it’s a chance to support the local people and help out a good cause. The money raised is going to help people have a Christmas who might not otherwise have one,” he said. “I enjoy everything about doing this other than the cleanup. The cleanup is not so good.

“But one of the things that’s good about this is that it shows people that wild game can be good. Sometimes these don’t even make it inside. But those who try it love it and that makes you feel good.”

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