The 32-year tradition of the Great Stone Hill Beast Feast event is memorable for its menu of wild game appetizers and entrées but more importantly, for making a difference. Stone Hill Winery has hosted its annual Beast Feast every December to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society(LLS) since 1988. The Beast Feast began as a tribute to James Richard Held, the son of Jon Held and grandson of Jim and Betty. James was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia as a toddler and was given just a 25% chance at survival. He lost his battle and passed away in 1988 at the age of five. Since that day, the Held family has been committed to fundraising for LLS in hopes of finding a cure for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and other leukemias and lymphomas. This past year’s Beast Feast was made especially meaningful for its celebration of winery founder, Jim Held, who passed last November after battling a very rare form of Leukemia that strikes older adults.
What started as a small impromptu potluck dinner of family and close friends gathering to raise spirits, as well as funds to fight cancer, blossomed into a community and region-wide event raising hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. Each annual Beast Feast involves a dinner with a wide variety of “wild” foods. Game that has been donated for the feast has included bison, pheasant, trout, squirrel, rabbit, tuna, elk, beaver, raccoon, alligator, opossum, and bear to name a few. The event also always includes both a live and a silent auction, in which a variety of generously donated items are auctioned off. 100% of every ticket sold and auction item purchased provides LLS important funding to advance research on Leukemia.
At the last Beast Feast on December 13th, 2019 another capacity crowd of 125 attendees gathered in Stone Hill’s Sherry House. Several long-time attendees praised the year’s food as the best the event has ever had. Auction items donated by many local businesses and individuals included a one-of-a-kind handcrafted wine barrel wine rack (fully stocked), various weekend getaways, wildlife bronze statues, St. Louis Symphony tickets, a guided pheasant hunt, and many more. Even the centerpieces for the elaborate table decorations were donated and locally made by a Hermann florist and later auctioned off. Many Stone Hill staff also want to get involved and contribute their talents and time not only preparing the meal but also through creating items for the cause. One staff member came up with a new cupcake raffle idea and when the 50 cupcakes sold out in a matter of minutes, she said she’d make twice as many the next year.
In total, $36,860 was raised, which topped the previous year’s Beast Feast. Since its beginning, the outpouring of generosity continues to grow each year. Stone Hill Winery is grateful for all those working to end blood cancer. It is with heartfelt appreciation of everyone helping at each Beast Feast to raise money for an amazing and meaningful cause, while sharing unique food, great auction items, and wonderful company.