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Clear Branch plans annual free supper at Lincoln Civic Center

Most likely the only wildlife you’ll see at the Clear Branch Family Wildlife Supper Friday will be kids, teens and grandfathers strutting around the Lincoln Civic Center and gobbling like turkeys to win a cash prize.

It’s the third year for the event, which is a ministry hosted by Clear Branch Baptist Church to feed the hungry with devotion, information and slices from a 400-pound whole smoked hog.

“We were looking at a way to reach that demographic,” said Crystal Springer, the student minister at the church. “We have so many of our church members who are avid hunters and we wanted to provide something the community would be interested in.”

If that interest includes free food and prizes, they’ll probably have a crowd.

Besides the hog, they’re serving patty and link sausages with biscuits and gravy.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Stringer is expecting several hundred people to attend. That’s why they host it at the Lincoln Civic Center instead of their church.

“There’s more space and it’s more conducive to reaching people,” she said. “I feel like anybody in the community would feel welcome to come there than to any certain church.”

Rev. Bruce Brady Jr., a lifetime board member with the Catch-A-Dream Foundation, will be the featured speaker.

The non-profit, which is based on an idea shared by his father before he died, grants once-in-a-lifetime hunting and fishing experiences to children 18 years old or younger who have a life-threatening illness.

The foundation’s purpose is to provide outdoor experiences to fill the gap created when the Make-A-Wish Foundation established a national policy that precludes granting wishes to children that involves firearms or sport-shooting equipment.

Since it was organized in 2000, organizers have completed 587 trips for children from 45 states — including 82 from Mississippi — and two Canadian provinces.

Members of Clear Branch Baptist will also speak, she said.

But first the turkey gobbling.

“That will be the first time for that,” she said.

Stringer figured it would be a good way to break the ice. And the winner struts away with a $100 cash prize.

There are also giveaways planned. Door prizes include a shotgun and a recliner.

She is hoping to see a diverse crowd. “Fathers, sons, co-workers. It’s an easy event to invite people to,” she said.

Church members volunteer their time and the food is donated. “Our church is very focused on giving to the community. It’s important to do that,” she said. “It’s one of the ways we’ve chosen to serve where we are. That’s our motto — Reaching people where they are.”

Organizations like the Mississippi Forestry Commission and the Mississippi State University Extension Service will set up booths to offer information to those in attendance.