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Costas wild-game feed benefits needy families
Brad Inglis worked grilling wild pig and elk at last years wild game feed. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: 28th annual Costa’s Wild Game Feed & Holiday Benefit Party
• WHEN: Friday, Dec. 14, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• WHERE: Manteca Trailer and Motorhome, 2060 E. Yosemite Ave.
• COST: There is no charge but donations are accepted to help the needy this season.

Siblings and business partners Jesse and Jim Costa have been going wild every Christmas for the last three decades.

We’re talking about a wild-game feast. And the food is all gratis. But for those who can afford, they can drop a green buck or two – or more if they so desire – in a donation box. One hundred percent of the money collected goes to needy individuals and families in the community this Christmas.

Party time this year is on Friday, Dec. 14, from 11:30 a.m. to approximately 7 p.m. or, as Jesse puts it, “until the food runs out.” The venue is the spacious show room of Manteca Trailer and Motorhome, Inc., at 2060 E. Yosemite Ave. Owner Terry Davis has graciously offered his building as the setting for this hugely popular and unique gastronomical event for the last few years. Last year, some 1,200 people from all over came to sample the wide variety of wild-game dishes plus enjoy some camaraderie.

The food includes salmon, halibut, trout, rock cod, calamari, pheasant, duck, goose, quail, deer, elk, wild pig, bear and other assorted game. The salmon is supplied by older brother Jim who fishes in Alaska. Both brothers are avid anglers, but it’s Jim who goes after the Omega 3-rich salmon in Sara Palin’s back yard.

Most of the dishes come from the brothers’ freezers. The avid hunters hunt year-round. Their hunting trips vary depending on their work schedule at their automotive business and their family life, explained Jesse. It also depends on the hunting season. “There’s so much different game to hunt (during the year) – there’s bird, big game and small game,” he added.

He hunts mostly around California. “I haven’t been going out of state at all anymore because of family. I’ve got a family to raise,” Jesse said.

Older brother Jim, whose children are grown, is the one who still does that. He hunts sometimes in Idaho and Montana plus “around here in California,” Jesse said.

Through the years, friends of the two brothers who are also avid hunters and anglers have also stepped forward to provide more variety to the dishes that are placed on the long tables, including home-made desserts. Other friends and family members come and help as volunteer cooks and servers.

Costa brothers’ late father planted giving spirit by helping family in need

The brothers took over the business from their late father, Joe Costa. The original concept for the annual game-feed philanthropic event was started by their father. But having the feed as an annual event, and lasting the way it did, was never the family patriarch’s plan. Jim and Jesse, two of Joe and Mary Costa’s six children – three boys and three girls – simply took it farther and by so doing are continuing the tradition of helping the needy that was exemplified by their devout Catholic parents.

Asked why they decided to continue what their father started, Jesse laughed and simply replied, “Why? Why not? It’s a good thing for everybody. It brings the community together and helps out people in the community. So it’s just something good.”

On a more serious tone, he added, “He’s the one that got us started. I was part of that first party.”

Jesse was referring to the Christmas party that his father threw three decades ago for one of his employees who had fallen on hard times.

He planted the original philanthropic seed from which the wild-game feed evolved. The story is now a familiar one to a lot of people.

Joe Costa, who founded Costa’s Automotive, had a young Mexican working at his shop. The man was the sole breadwinner for his wife and their 10 children. But tragedy struck when the man’s wife suddenly left him and their young children. Despite being urged to sign up for welfare to provide for his children, the proud father staunchly refused any such help. Joe Costa then came up with an idea that would allow him to help the struggling family without hurting the man’s pride. He threw a Christmas party for the family and made arrangements for Santa to come and distribute gifts and other basic necessities for the children and their father.

That party was held at the automotive shop in the commercial complex at Button Avenue just north of today’s Black Bear Diner. Years later, the party needed bigger quarters. Next door was Vern’s Towing with a larger space. The then owner of the towing business offered his place for the annual feed where it stayed for a number of years. Soon, the event outgrew that place, too. Into the picture came Terry Davis who offered his brand-new building as the venue where the feed is being held to this day.

After Joe Costa passed away, his sons Jim and Jesse not only took over the business but continued the Good Samaritan work that their father started.

Jesse said they owe the perennial success of this event that benefits the needy in the community to many good-hearted and generous people in the community such as Davis.

“We really appreciate all the work that everybody does in helping us, and especially Manteca Trailer and Motorhome. They’re just phenomenal – all the stuff they do and letting us use their building. It’s just great,” Jesse said.

Nobody, including Jim and Jesse Costa, knew whatever happened to the Mexican family that their father helped. Jim recalled a few years ago that everyone in the family eventually went back to Mexico with the exception of the youngest who married a young man who was in the military.