Dennis Perseille waits for the question he knows is coming when he tells someone that the menu includes deep-fried alligator. What, everyone wants to know, does it taste like?

“It has the consistency of chicken, but it tastes like something that comes out of the water,” Perseille answers.

Fried alligator is not a typical offering at most public suppers around the state, but it is just the type of thing that will help draw hundreds of men and boys of hunting age to Saturday’s 7th Annual Beast Feast at More to Life Family Campground in Winthrop. For seven years, Beast Feast has been a place to let out your inner Davy Crockett on such game as exotic as alligator and as mundane as venison.

“The idea is to have a varied offering,” Perseille said. “We’ve cooked everything from rabbit to quail in the past. It all depends on what’s available to us.”

Beast Feast is the brainchild of Dana Masters, of Bridgton, and his friend, who were looking to develop a Christian ministry that would appeal to men and boys who enjoy hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. His friend is no longer involved, but Masters is still driven to organize the feast every year.

“It’s just something that God has instructed me to do for this season of my life,” Masters said.

The feast has grown over the years and now attracts as many as 400 people. It has become so popular, in fact, that it has spawned a business, Beast Feast Maine, that sells the meat sauces and rubs that Masters developed for the annual feast. Proceeds from the company help support the annual feast, Masters said.

“The business is now profitable enough to pay for the whole event,” he said. “That’s why I know this is divinely inspired.”

Masters said he is careful to guard against using the annual feast to promote his business. Though Beast Feast Maine sponsors the event and it includes vendors from other companies, Masters’ company doesn’t sell or display product information at the feast.

“This is the outreach that is sponsored by the company,” Masters said. “We’re not trying to sell products or market the company at the event.”

The cost of the feast includes rental for the facility and food, but much of the meat is donated, Masters said. He is part of the state’s Hunters for the Hungry program, which helps hunters donate part or all of the meat they harvest to families in need. Some of that meat includes roadkill that will be prepared for the feast. This year’s menu includes meat from a bear harvested by a hunter who was interested only in the cape. Lake trout for the feast was donated by Wayside Food Programs in Portland, which had fish from a fishing derby on Sebago Lake. The menu also includes pork, corned beef, fish chowder and macaroni salad.

Perseille, Masters’ friend, has cooked at all of the feasts.

“I like to cook, and I’ve done a fair bit of community cooking working at Wayside soup kitchen and places like that,” Perseille said.

Perseille said the feast has been a great way to meet people who share similar interests.

“I have a great time because when you’re standing next to a smoker, everyone comes by to talk to you,” he said. “That’s what I enjoy about it.”

Part of the fun is deciding how to prepare the meat they get, Perseille said.

“We had a bunch of ground bear, and we were trying to decide what to do with it,” he said. They settled on black bear baked beans.

“On the grills we’ll be burning corned beef and venison roasts,” Perseille said. “I know we’re making a venison pot pie, venison stew and Brunswick stew, which is made of squirrel. A lot of people turn up their noses, but I’ll tell you, it’s fantastic.”

The feast also includes a show by Maine humorist Gary Crocker and a presentation by the Rev. Paul Veit. Known as the Dino Pastor, Veit is founder of the Creation Learning Center in Bridgton.

Perseille said the feast is Christian-based, but all men and boys are encouraged to attend, regardless of their faith.

“It’s an opportunity for people to get together,” he said.

Lynn Gordon, who owns More to Life with her husband, Mark Gordon, said the Feast has become a popular attraction for campers and visitors over the four years the campground has hosted the event.

“It’s given us exposure,” she said.

The feast is scheduled to kick off at 2 p.m. at More To Life Family Campground at 48 Lady Slipper Lane in Winthrop. The meal begins at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to men and boys of hunting age.

For more information call Dana Masters at 831-0737.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

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