JENKINS, Minn. (WCCO) — Meat raffles are as much a part of Minnesota culture as hot dish and hockey.

And if you walk into a VFW or American Legion on a weekend night, it’s a good bet you’ll find one in progress.

But where can you find the best?

Your votes sent me 25 miles north of Brainerd, to VFW Post 3839 in Jenkins.

Let me tell you, there’s never a dull moment at their meat raffles.

“On the $5 round, 168 tickets would be 18 prizes in one round,” said Mary Parker, the meat raffle emcee. “Yeah, so it doesn’t take us long to go through our meat.”

Over a weekend, they’ll go through about $2,000 worth of goodies from Emily Meats.

“T-Bone steaks and sirloin steaks and ribs,” said Deb Tulenchik, the VFW club manager.

And people come from all over for a chance to win. One woman I met drove three hours to get there.

As it happened, I’d never been to a meat rafter before seeing the one in Jenkins. However, the concept seemed pretty simple: buy a ticket, and hope it gets called. If you win, you get a cut of meat.

Tickets cost $1.

But as I quickly found out, not everyone can be a winner.

“There are no secrets,” Tulenchik said. “That’s they why call it gambling.”

Some people were a bit luckier than me. Some people with multiple wins were branded with a new nickname – a “meat hog.”

The Jenkins VFW has been doing meat raffles three days a week since 1992, and every dollar of profit goes back into the community.

They support everything from the Girl Scouts to local law enforcement to veterans programs.

“I believe that myself and my staff and my board members are all in this,” Tulenchik said. “Our hearts are it in, and it’s because we’re a service organization.”

It’s a comforting fact, because if you’re staring at the meat table, and you don’t hear your number called…round after round. It helps to know you’re donating to a good cause.

The meat raffle at the Jenkins VFW runs from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday nights, and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Parking is free.


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