Possum monument.

The Possum Monument

Field review by the editors.

Wausau, Florida

"We're well-blessed with the possums here in Wausau," said Dalton Carter, chairman of the committee that built the town's Possum Monument. That was in 1982, when Dalton was only 50. "In hard times, possum was the only meat that was on that table," said Dalton. "We owe a lot to the possum. We're proud of it."

Possum monument.

Wausau, a small town with one blinker light, is the Possum Capital of the World. Its population, according to Dalton, is about 315 -- not counting an apparently unlimited supply of possums in Reedy Creek Swamp, just behind the monument. But Wausau's human population swells to thousands on the first Saturday in August, when the town hosts its Possum Festival -- which was also invented by Dalton Carter. It's an impressive display of Possum Power, routinely attracting visits from Florida's governors and any politician running for office in the state.

"It's good meat," said Dalton of the possum. "High in proteins. Lots of nourishment." He described how the Possum Festival prepares its signature dish, possum hash:

"We catch the possums in the wintertime when they're fat. Then we put them in a deep freezer. Then a few days before the festival, just a day or two, we begin to thaw 'em out. We boil that possum and pull the meat off the bone. Then we take onions, and black and red pepper, and mix it in with the meat, and put it in the oven and bake it. Let it dry out and make a hash out of it. And that seems to be the favorite."

(No possums are harmed during the Festival. Its charity Possum Auction releases the "sold" critters back into the wild.)

One day, said Dalton, he will be gone, and even the Possum Festival may some day end. But the monument will endure as a permanent possum tribute in the Possum Capital. "Did you ever see any possums that's been killed by a vehicle?" Dalton asked. "Next time, if you look close, his nose will be pointed toward that monument in Wausau. If that nose is not pointed toward Wausau, he's been hit more than one time."

The Possum Monument

Address:
2nd Ave., Wausau, FL
Directions:
I-10 exit 120, then south about ten miles on Hwy 77. Across the street from the Wausau village post office, at the corner of Hwy 77 and 2nd Ave.
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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