The informant is a Freshman at USC studying Biology. Originally from Charleston, West Virginia, he tells a narrative about a bizarre tradition held in his hometown.
Me: “Tell me about where you’re from? What is the community like?”
D: “So, yeah, Charleston isn’t a very big city, but it’s the capital of the state, so it’s where most of the festivals and things take place. West Virginia culture is very country… all the hillbilly people you see on TV?, that’s us, West Virginia. They’re all about hunting and four-wheel riding and things of that nature. But it is a beautiful place, though. I can’t take that from it, I love the scenery – especially in the fall. So, overall, I guess Charleston was a solid place to grow up. I’m just glad I don’t have the accent.”
Me: “You mentioned festivals taking place in the city. Can you tell me about a specific festival in your hometown and what your community does for it?”
D: “One of the festivals that is closest to me is called the ‘ Annual Critter Dinner.’ And yeah, it’s exactly how it sounds. People bring their roadkill to the community center that isn’t too far away from me and they gather around to cook it and eat it. They bring things like possums, racoons, deer, birds – all sorts of things. I, for one, have never been, and I don’t plan on going either. That isn’t for me, but the people of WV love things like that. Umm it’s an annual thing, and it’s always a surprisingly big turn out too. You see it in the papers and on TV and everything. The whole city gets involved pretty much.”
Me: “ When does this festival take place?”
D : “It’s always in December. It’s always cold outside and it’s right after a part of hunting season and it’s kind of like our own mini feast between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Me: Is it celebrating something?”
D: “Mmmm, I guess you could say so. People celebrate in what they’ve hunted through the season, and then other people are just proud to present their roadkill.”
Me: “Present it? Do you know if they have contests, like maybe over who can get the most roadkill?”
D: “Yeah, whoever brings the most get’s some kind of prize, but I’m not exactly sure what it is. Like I said, I’ve never been… but I also know that the person with, like, the biggest roadkill gets to eat first after everything is cooked.”
Me: “So what do you think this tradition brings to your city? Why is it important for your city to have an Annual Critter Dinner?”
D: “It’s definitely a good time for all the people that go. So for the city, it brings people together, and it’s something that’s unique to our state, so we feel a bit special. It kind of makes us stand out, because it’s an odd tradition.”
I think this tradition for the city of Charleston held every year speaks a lot to other places about what some of West Virginia’s people are like and what they value and celebrate as a culture. I think the citizens participating in the contests and festivals enjoy expressing their hunting culture. The Critter Dinner is a unique event to the city of Charleston, and, although it is an odd one, the festival brings citizens together to enjoy a meal, which adds to the unity and structure of the city.