It is an event which is known for its puns, fun, as well as national attention.
On Monday, March 28 the Oakdale Rotary Club will once again present its Testicle Festival, this year marking the 39th event.
Tickets for the event are currently being sold by Rotarians, Oakdale Chamber of Commerce as well as on-line at www.oakdalerotaryclub.org Tickets are $75 in advance and $85 at the door. The event will be hosted at the Oakdale FES Hall. Hosted bar begins at 6 p.m. and dinner is served at 7 p.m.
Long time Rotarians and event coordinators Lee Scaief and Bob Brunker shared they’re excited to bring the in-person event back to the community.
“We skipped the last two because of COVID,” Scaief stated, noting this year should have been the 41st.
Scaief has been a part of the event since its inception, while Brunker has been on board for the past 31 years.
Initially known as a Calf Fry, Scaief shared the event first began when the club was in search of a notable annual fundraiser.
“All clubs look for a fundraiser and it’s highly competitive,” he said. “So, you sit around in a boardroom and think how can we make money to put back into the community.”
He went on to share that the local event was first offered under the leadership of Harley May, a well-known cowboy on the national level.
As the one who pitched the idea, Scaief shared May as Rotary President at the time, was on board. Following a long discussion the decision was made to give it a try.
Yet it wasn’t until Brunker took over the gavel as President in 1996-97 that the event name was redefined.
“One day, at a meeting I said, Well, I’m going to change the name to Testicle Festival,” Brunker said. “There was a few people out there squawking and they said, you know, this is an elite club here. We can’t name it that; that’s not right.”
Acknowledging the concern, Brunker made a ballot box from a shoe box and quickly hosted a ballot vote which resulted overwhelmingly in his favor.
Since the time of its start until now, the event has grown from serving 75 to 100 men (only) at the Oakdale Sportsmen’s Club to close to 400 men and women at the FES Hall.
“This would not have happened without a House of Beef and Steve Medlen,” Scaief stated. “If it wasn’t for them telling us how to cook and just get it done … without him, it wouldn’t fly.”
And fly it has, creating a memorable time for the community, as well as raising funds which benefit a number of causes and organizations including: Children’s Guardian House; Oakdale Rescue Mission; Oakdale Community Sharing; local schools; as well as scholarships for students and Oakdale Police Department.
“We try to just kind of pretty much help humanity everywhere,” Brunker said, noting some national projects as well.
“It was our biggest fundraiser of the year,” he continued about the Testicle Festival. “So that’s what keeps us going. That money keeps us helping these people that need help.”
But it’s not easy work. The two coordinators shared if it weren’t for the help of 50 volunteers comprised of Rotary members as well as community, partnering with Medlen, the event would not happen.
“It’s very labor intensive, it takes a lot of people, a lot of work,” Scaief said. “It’s very hard work. We thought at some point in time not to do it, but it has become such a social event and a celebration of the community we said let’s just keep doing it.”
Thanks to the help of Medlen, the group prepares 350 to 400 pounds of bull testicles for each event; a process which took time to learn, by way of prep as well as seasoning.
Scaief shared a story on the first time he was trying to get educated on how to properly prepare the annual treat; he was instructed by a few to just “dice ‘em up skins and all”. A valuable lesson, as it was later learned this creates a chewy consistency which had some still chewing a week later.
“We’ve learned a lot,” he said on prep and serving. “We’ve come a long way. We’ve got a good system going.”
Accompanying the rocky mountain oysters will be chili, salad, bread, tortillas and salsa. This year, however, there’s an additional item on the menu: chicken.
“It’s changed,” Brunker said. “We added something, because some people bring people that don’t necessarily want calf fry.”
As the date for the event draws closer, both men share an honest sense of humor when posed with the question of what they look forward to the most.
“When it’s over,” Brunker said quickly.
“Two weeks later, when the pain goes away,” Scaief added, with a chuckle.
“We’re both ready to hand this over to the younger crowd,” Scaief continued of the physical work and its taxing nature. “You guys have to pick it up here. Get on with it.”
All kidding aside, the men said they enjoy seeing the community come together for the event sharing good laughs and creating good memories.
“Even though it’s not our only fundraiser now, it comes down to this … It’s just Oakdale,” Scaief said.
For additional information on Oakdale Rotary or the upcoming event, call 209-847-2244.