Meat raffles are a creative fundraising event in which the prize winner takes home … you guessed it … meat. Meat raffles can be found in Australia, Canada and Britain as well as in the United States, where they are frequently (though not exclusively) held in the Midwest, including western New York, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and areas of New England.
VFW and American Legion posts, pubs and bars are often host to these charitable meat raffles, but frequently an organization will rent a hall for larger raffles. Patrons purchase tickets, usually for $1 each, with at least one ticket number on it.
In a typical meat raffle, the event is divided into rounds. In each round, a large wheel is spun and an emcee calls out the number of spins that will take place for each round. Some rounds may only have one spin of the wheel, while other rounds could have five or more spins; the more spins, again the better chance of winning. The numbers may or may not be unique to the ticket, so it’s possible that there are multiple winners in each round. If you don’t have an appropriate wheel, you could place all of the ticket stubs into a box and do a blind draw. You would determine the number of rounds by a roll of dice.
Other types of meat raffles include a Chinese auction style of raffle. Players purchase their tickets and deposit them in a bowl or bucket in front of the meat item of their choice. A winning ticket is drawn from the bucket, and the winner takes home the meat.
As one might expect, the prize is … meat! The possibilities are virtually unlimited: ribeye steaks, pork chops, ribs, bacon, liver, jerky, etc. The selection isn’t limited to beef or pork, either: some meat raffles offer items such as turkeys (especially at Thanksgiving), chicken, seafood and lamb chops, and others offer “meat trays” of breakfast-style foods. The Minneapolis, Minn.-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy held a “sustainable meat raffle” last year to celebrate its 25th anniversary, offering a wide variety of meat prizes such as grass-fed beef, organic meat, regionally sourced hams and more.
Some meat raffles will offer meat plus the (uncooked) fixings to prepare a meal for a family of 4 to 6: think steaks, corn on the cob, potatoes, salad greens and a dessert or fruit basket. Others offer “extras” in addition to the meat, such as a barbecue tool set, margarita glasses, etc.
Proceeds from meat raffles typically go to support a local school’s booster club, scholarship fund, sports team trip to the championships or other charitable causes. So give meat raffles a try!