Monday night marked my fourth Oakdale Testicle Festival, taking me a long way from my first time as a newbie with only a few weeks on for The Leader, and an editorial staff of women (sans sports guy) when I was “chosen” to cover the annual event.
For those that know me, or seen my physique, I’m no stranger to chowing down and have no problem trying new culinary cuisine – especially when accompanied by free-flowing red wine – and have looked forward to the feast of the breaded bovine nuggets ever since.
It’s no secret to locals, (except maybe the woman who cut my hair that afternoon on F Street who thought a “Testicle Festival” was, as she asked, “a men’s health function?”) that the Oakdale Testicle Festival is the city’s most distinctive and exclusive event to which many travel from far to attend.
Members of the Oakdale Rotary Club slice, tenderize, batter, bread, and fry up over 400 pounds of bull testicles, better known as Rocky Mountain oysters, for an always sold-out community fundraiser for the club and the Oakdale Cowboy Museum at the packed FES Hall.
What I found ironic about this year is the honoree, Jack Lerch and his company, JLG Enterprises, is in the bull semen collection and storage business – the prior function of those tasty morsels that were served up that night.
While the setting hasn’t changed from the first time, my familiarity has come a long way by now knowing a great many of the attendees where, over an open bar, I was able to talk with some regarding current city news, past articles, city scuttlebutt and dirt for possible future articles.
Having an open bar helps and since company policy allows me “two drinks” on assignments, I remained within policy – OK, semantically I had “two drinks;” a Tom Collins I never saw the bottom of before dinner and wine with dinner, also never seeing the bottom of the glass, so I only had only two (types).
The raffle, with tickets sold by well-endowed gals, and auction are a big part of the event. As with previous years, I get a kick out of the auction and raffle prizes which scream Oakdale cowboy such as 100 gallons of red-dye diesel, a Remington rifle with scope, a box at the Oakdale Rodeo, and a Las Vegas trip during the National Finals Rodeo.
Of course the one that piqued my interest was a chance to win an AR-15 (especially since I still have some tactical attachments from my prior cop life) but Mrs. Rich informed me I too would end up testicle-less if I came home with it.
I was invited to sit at a table of local Realtors and mortgage people (thanks Allison and Jerry) and found myself across from veterinary doctors Caitlan Daly of Maine who was the guest of her friend, Margaux Buchanan, of the Sweet River Equine Clinic in Modesto.
In another ironic twist, both vet docs told me they had been at an equine castration clinic over the weekend, or as Buchanan put it, “Taking some testies with my bestie.”
Daly’s first taste of the fried bull testicles was receptive.
“Nothing like I’ve had at home,” she said. “I’ll be sure to tell them there what I had, especially after what I did last weekend.”
In the end, a good time was had by all or as Oakdale Cowboy Museum Director Christie Camarillo put it, “you’re guaranteed to have a ball.”
I’m looking forward to next year.