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DWU group offers 'tasty meat' cookout

Dakota Wesleyan University senior Cisalie Bechen dishes up some food at the PETA -- "People Eating Tasty Animals" -- cookout Wednesday afternoon at DWU. (Laura Wehde/Republic Photo)

Wednesday was Earth Day, but there was no green in the diets of about 30 students and guests who attended a suppertime "PETA" cookout behind the Dayton Hall dorm at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell.

There was just meat -- lots of meat, and nary a vegan in the lot. The PETA acronym, which is commonly associated with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, stood instead for People Eating Tasty Animals.

Event organizer Kelsey Miller, president of the DWU College Republicans, billed the event as "a time for those who eat meat, wear fur and hunt to get together and enjoy ourselves in South Dakota fashion." A raffle also provided some funds to help the young Republican group, she said.

While the event offered a good-natured nose-thumbing in the direction of the animal rights organization, the Earth Day overlap was simply a coincidence, said Miller, a junior in the college's public service and leadership program.

"We've got finals this week, and this is just a good pre-exam de-stresser," she said.

There is a national "PETA" group that was formed to parody the pro-animal PETA, but Miller says her group, now in its second cookout year, is affiliated with neither.

"We just saw the name on the Internet and just decided it would be funny to have a cookout," said Miller, a carnivore raised on a ranch near Belle Fourche.

Cisalie Bechen, a senior art major from Flandreau, was among those in attendance.

"I know some people might have a problem with hunting," she said, "but you know what? They're not hunting just to hunt, but to eat the food, and I don't have a problem with that."

The venison, snow goose and antelope was supplied and cooked by Foster Bartholow, a DWU sophomore multimedia major from Rapid City who is an avid hunter.

The event fit perfectly with the lifestyle of Kyle Meier, a senior in the school's wildlife management program.

"I'm doing my part (for wildlife management) as we speak," he said, happily munching Doritos and dipping his venison into barbecue sauce. Meier plans a summer internship with the Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

Jesse Weins, who teaches criminal justice at DWU, said the event was all in good fun. He attended with his wife, Anne, and two children.

"It's a pretty creative group," he said of the College Republicans. "They're just putting some South Dakota spin on some spring fun."

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