When most people enter a raffle, they expect to win money, or perhaps a prize such as a gift certificate, an electronic device or a gift basket.
Most probably wouldn’t expect to win several pounds of pork ribs, ground beef or chicken thighs. But those are exactly the types of prizes you can win at a meat raffle. And luckily for carnivores, meat raffles are very popular in Buffalo and Western New York.
What Is A Meat Raffle?
According to WNYMeatRaffles.com, meat raffles have a long tradition in Great Britain and Australia, as well as some areas of the US, such as Minnesota, and Western Canada. In many places, these events are held in pubs and bars.
In Western New York, meat raffles are usually held by religious or nonprofit organizations and used as a fundraiser. They tend to have a low admission fee which sometimes covers food and beer. If they don’t offer food and drink, some meat raffles let you bring in your own. The events are not limited to bars here in Western New York; they are often held at larger venues, such as church halls, schools, fire halls and social clubs.
How Meat Raffles Work
According to WNYMeatRaffles, most of the time, local meat raffles work something like this: You enter the venue and take a seat at a table. If you haven’t already, you exchange your large bills for $1 bills, which helps make ticket sellers’ jobs easier. You then use your $1 bills to purchase tickets from a ticket seller, or “runner.”
Each ticket generally costs $1 and usually has two or more numbers. Here in Buffalo, the competition for tickets can be cutthroat. There is a frenzy of ticket buying once sales start, and many people come with large groups and formulate a ticket buying strategy in order to maximize their chances of winning a big prize. MeatRaffles.com compares a Buffalo meat raffle to the “markets in Damascus,” and they’re not lying.
The meat raffle is divided into “rounds.” Once all of the tickets have been purchased, the raffle begins. At the beginning of each round, the host will announce the number of spins of the wheel for that particular round. MeatRaffles.com writes that there are usually at least three spins per round, and most raffles have around twenty rounds, so there are many chances to win throughout the night.
The host begins the raffle by spinning the wheel. If the wheel lands on any of your numbers for that round, you win the meat for that spin. Each spin results in multiple winners because the same numbers are sold to multiple people each round.
Different raffles may have different numbers of raffle rounds, different numbers of spins per round as well as different types of meat offered. Some also include a 50/50 raffle to win cash, and some are run like a silent auction. The one thing that remains the same is that it is a highly entertaining social occasion, especially here in Western New York.
It’s particularly entertaining when you come with a large group — and the more people you have buying tickets, the better chance of someone winning a large meat prize. Since the prizes tend to be large, groups will often coordinate to split up the meat if someone in their group wins. Even if you don’t eat meat, it’s fun to hang out with friends and root for them to win while eating and drinking.
Meat Raffles Around Buffalo & Niagara Falls
Think you’re ready to take part in a raffle and win some meat? There are raffles all throughout the year here in Buffalo and Niagara Falls — you could go to one practically every weekend if you wanted.
Here are some meat raffles coming up in the next couple of months. Don’t forget your $1 bills and a cooler — you’ll want to be ready to bring home your prize!
February Meat Raffles
Nitro 14U & 16U Meat Raffle
Date: February 28, 6-9:30pm
Location: St. Johnsburg Fire Hall, North Tonawanda, NY
Meat/gift basket raffle to support Wheatfield Nitro 14 and 16U softball teams. Also includes a $500 liquor/lottery ticket raffle. winner take all.
St. Andrew’s School Meat Raffle
Date: February 29, 5-9pm
Location: McNulty Hall, Kenmore, NY
Proceeds benefit St. Andrew’s School and Parish in Kenmore. Raffle includes gift baskets, door prizes and a raffle of a large freezer of meat.
Meat Raffle to Benefit Restoration of First Presbyterian Church
Date: February 29, 6-9pm
Location: Elmwood Village Charter School, Buffalo, NY
Proceeds support the restoration of the landmark First Presbyterian Church in Buffalo. There will be door prizes, wine giveaways between spins and multiple chances to win gift certificates to restaurants, theatres and other local events. There will also be theme rounds, including a breakfast round featuring breakfast meats plus eggs from chickens raised next door to the church. Major door prizes include a smoker grill and premium grill tools.
March & April Meat Raffles
Meat Raffle To Support Boy Scout Troop 431
Date: March 6, 6-9pm
Location: Sikora Post, North Tonawanda, NY
Meat raffle to support Boy Scout Troop 431. Other prizes include gift baskets, a 50/50 and a large item raffle.
Buffalo Curling Club Meat Raffle
Date: March 6, 7-10pm
Location: Leonard Post VFW, Cheektowaga, NY
Raffle to benefit the Buffalo Curling Club. Prizes include door prizes, a 50/50 raffle and a freezer full of meat giveaway. And don’t forget to check out the club itself — you can learn more about curling in our blog post.
Meats & Sweets Raffle
Date: March 21, 5-9pm
Location: Knights of Columbus, 1530 Kenmore Avenue, Buffalo, NY
Raffle to benefit Lutheran Charities of WNY. Meat will be provided by Sloan Meat Market. You can even bring your vegetarian friends — they’ll love the sweet treats from Sweet Beginnings Bakery.
CAO/Head Start Meat Raffle
Date: March 27, 6-10pm
Location: Buffalo Irish Center – Emerald Room, Buffalo, NY
Proceeds benefit the Community Action Organization of Western New York’s Head Start program, which provides infant/toddler and preschool services to children and families throughout Western New York. Event grand prizes include a freezer full of meat and a 55’’ 4K Roku TV.
Port of Call: Buffalo Meat Raffle
Date: April 24, 6-10pm
Location: Leonard Post VFW, Cheektowaga, NY
Hosted by the Port of Call Buffalo Steering Committee of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association. Support the Port of Call and share memories of the tall ships that sailed into Buffalo Harbor last summer while entering to win some great meat prizes.