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).
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.