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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
Sign on outskirts of Gillett promoting Coon Supper
This sign, constructed in 1958 to promote Gillett and its annual raccoon feast, still stands.

Gillett Coon Supper

An important community social function for over 50 years, this annual supper is a fund-raiser for the school's athletic program. Gillett, a small rural community with a population of 883, is located in the tri-rivers country where the Arkansas and White Rivers flow to the Mississippi. The Coon Supper originally began as a hunters' meal that followed their raccoon hunts; during its early years, it was held in houses, churches, and local diners. The method of preparing the coons has changed little over the years. Raccoons are quartered, washed, and soaked overnight in salt water, then boiled until tender. The meat is then placed in a tank to impart the smoked flavor, then barbecued. Women of the community prepare rice, sweet potatoes and dessert. Beginning in 1947, the Farmers' and Businessmen's Club, formed to discuss community problems and issues, began hosting the Coon Supper to provide funds for the school's athletic program. It is a primary stopping point for Arkansas politicians--including then-Governor Bill Clinton--and for Miss Arkansas.

The project is documented with a spiral-bound book entitled "Welcome to Gillett: Home of Friendly People and the Coon Supper," produced by the Advanced Placement English class at Gillett's high school; several black and white historic photos; editions of several local newspapers; an oral history of the Coon Supper as told by James Place, emcee for over 40 years; and videotapes of excerpts from the event.

Originally submitted by: Marion Berry, Representative (1st District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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