Cat Rescue Benefit a Roaring Success

Meshoppen Cat Rescue was the focus and beneficiary of the fourth annual Crock-Pot Pot-Luck Cook-Off, held for the first time at American Legion Post 510 in Black Walnut. Hundreds of supporters sampled offerings from 23 crocks and took part in 50/50 drawings and a raffle that featured dozens of themed baskets and thousands of dollars in merchandise and gift certificates donated by area businesses and individuals. The afternoon of “food, fun, and fur babies” resulted in $5,400 given to Meshoppen Cat Rescue to cover a variety of costs at the shelter, also located in Black Walnut.

Crock pot chefs were encouraged to enter anything that could be served with a single utensil. Submissions included soups, stews, pulled pork, and chili, as well as dessert dishes like French toast casserole and rice pudding. Patrons purchased voting tickets that allowed them access to all of the crocks and then voted on their favorites by placing the tickets in corresponding paper bags. The Peoples’ Choice winner was 16-year-old Leo Southworth with a dish he called Cheesy Italian Tortellini. There was also a judges award, chosen by a secret panel. Lisa Tyler of South Auburn walked away with that prize with her Reuben Soup.

The cook off has grown steadily over the years since it began in 2021 at the Highway Inn. Organizers Mike Houser and Rick Hiduk, who worked closely with Cat Rescue associates, realized last year that the event was outgrowing the venue and had the potential to draw even more supporters. The net result was about $2,000 more this year for Meshoppen Cat Rescue with room to further expand the event.

We were overwhelmed by the generosity of area businesses who, in addition to very popular gift certificates, took high-valued merchandise directly from their shelves and gave it to us for the raffle,” said Hiduk, who also emceed the party. “We could never have done it, however, without eager volunteers who helped set up the room and serve food, as well as the ladies from Meshoppen Cat Rescue who know how to run a raffle better than anyone.”

Prizes ranged in value from $25 to $200. Donors, in alphabetical order, included Bartron Supply, Black Walnut Legion, Bluhm’s Shopping Center, Burke’s Gun Shop, Dietrich Theater, Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, Fireplace Restaurant, Gay’s True Value, Golden Mile Mercantile, Hilltop Farms Marketplace, JR’s Hallmark, Kristi’s Kountry Kitchen, Local Emporium, Mark’s Valley View Restaurant, Marty’s Market, Meshoppen Pizza, Mile Hill NAPA, Natures Creations, Pizza Hut, Pompei’s Pizzeria, Rocket-Courier Newspaper, T&C Grille, Total-Tax Service, Wiser Choice Restaurant, and the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce.

Additional crock pot chefs were Mary Abell, Jamie Crane, Nikki Dobrinski, Debbie Wood Flower, Rex Gregory, Mike Houser, Amanda Kovalick, Patti Lasher, Ruth Parks, Amy Dowd Rupert, Mary Sands, Nancy Siglin, Janis Smurkoski, Janet Sterling, Jessica Turner, and Karla Uccellini.

Meshoppen Cat Rescue is a certified 501 C3 rescue, taking in and re-homing hundreds of homeless kittens and cats per year, as well as coordinating low-cost spaying and neutering as a community service. Interested readers can follow Meshoppen Cat Rescue on Facebook to learn different ways to support the organization.


  1. It was a great time. Cant wait till next year

  2. I just want to say congratulations to my 16 year old son Leo Southworth. Also wanted to say that I love and miss you so much baby boy and hope to see you soon. Love always Dad and Mom

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