Eagle County 4H programs benefit from the fun at the annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed | VailDaily.com

Eagle County 4H programs benefit from the fun at the annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed

Annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed benefits local 4H programs

The annual 4-H Rocky Mountain Oyster feed is the year's main fundraiser for 4-H programs. The event wouldn't happen without a lot of help from volunteers.
Eagle County 4-H/courtesy photo

Todd Winstead grew up in 4H. Now a dad, Winstead wants to help 4H the way that program helped him.

Winstead is president of the committee organizing the annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed, set for March 18 at the Eagle River Center at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. It promises to be a rollicking time, and no, you don’t have to eat Rocky Mountain oysters, although it’s probably a bad place to be a vegetarian.


What: The Rocky Mountain Oyster FeedrnWhat it is: A fundraiser for local 4H programsrnWhen: March 18, from 5:30-8 p.mrnWhere: The Eagle River Center at the Eagle County FairgroundsrnTickets: Available at the door; adults are $20, kids and seniors are $10

In addition to the fried oysters — known in some circles as calf fries — diners can enjoy roast beef, a bunch of delicious side dishes and tables full of homemade desserts.

“You see a ton of people at the event,” Winstead said. “You see a lot of people you haven’t seen through the winter.”

This cartoon should give you an idea of where Rocky Mountain Oysters come from.

Winstead noted that the event always draws people of all ages

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The goal, as always, is to raise money for the county’s 4H programs. Jenny Leonetti, who runs the 4H programs for the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension in Eagle County, said a lot of the money goes to scholarships for 4H kids. Funds also go toward grants for individual clubs. For instance, Whistling Bullets, the shooting sports and archery club, has a grant request to buy ammunition for participants.

Beyond money raised at the door, the Troy Harris Band will perform. There will also be a mechanical bull, a petting zoo, and face painting.

There will also be live and silent auctions as well as raffles for items including firearms.  

A big dinner and a cash bar means not many people dance, Leonetti noted.

Winstead noted that his brother holds a Federal Firearms License, which is needed for firearms transfers. Ray Long from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation holds a state license that allows him to oversee raffles, so everything’s on the up-and-up.

Besides the featured dish, the Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed 4H fundraiser will also offer diners roast beef, sides and plenty of homemade desserts.
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The firearms raffle in 2022 raised more than $6,400, and Winstead said this year’s raffle will include four firearms.

A lot of preliminary work is involved, and the 4H kids are part of it. Winstead said club members will visit businesses around the valley to find silent auction items.

The work last year funded four scholarships, each worth $4,000.

Winstead donates more than his time. United Rentals in Eagle, where Winstead works, every year donates a good bit of equipment to the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, from machinery to portable lights for the parking lots.

Winstead put himself through college with the proceeds from annual livestock auctions. That money comes from the annual junior livestock auction on the last day of the fair.

The Winstead daughters, now teens, have been in 4H since each was 8 or 9, he said. The girls have been involved in the dog club, and have raised lambs, goats and chickens.

The Oyster Feed is on the comeback trail from 2020, when the event was canceled just a week before it was supposed to be held.

Leonetti said 2021 was a “pretty good” year, adding that last year’s event was a record-setter, with more than 900 people attending. Another record-setter is “what we’re hoping for,” Leonetti said.

“It’s really a cool deal,” Winstead said. “It’s a great way to give back to the community.”

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