Meat Raffles in Victoria, Chaska, Chanhassen and Waconia

Gather with neighbors, raise money for a local non-profit—and stock your freezer.
Lucky winners can stock up on items such as pork chops and spicy sausages.

At first glance, it might appear that charitable giving, a freezer full of meat and happy hour have nothing to do with each other.

But that’s only if you’ve never been to a Minnesota meat raffle.

Meat raffles are simple, charitable gambling games that take place across Minnesota bars and restaurants, usually during happy hour. The atmosphere inside these establishments during a raffle is unlike any other experience. “Friday night meat raffles are a lot of fun,” says Holly Gothmann, who works at the Waconia VFW.  “You get a bunch of people from the community to gather for a little time out. There’s lots of laughing and great times. People get so excited when they win and you hear lots of cheering and screaming. There is even a little teasing when the same person wins multiple times.”

Imagine a football game where the home team is closing in on the final seconds of the game. All they need to do is punch in one more touchdown to secure their victory. The silence pierces through the air as the quarterback draws back; everyone is on the edge of his or her seats. The ball hits the receiver dead center and he races toward the goal line. The crowd gets more intense. The cheers are starting to form. He’s at the 20, the 15, the 10…TOUCHDOWN! The entire room uproars with happiness, excitement, and tears of joy as the hometown team clinches its victory.

The same drive, excitement, and enthusiasm happens during a meat raffle, but more intense. “It gets rowdy here, and we have a lot of fun,” says Roger Walley, gambling manager of the Chaska VFW. “We have a lot of regulars that come out and we host an actual raffle instead of a paddle wheel. Our guests really enjoy the actual raffle part of the evening.”

Each patron purchases a raffle ticket and then various rounds of a game are played to pick out the winners. It is often the most powerful and stimulating event at the bar. Each winner whoops and hollers as they win their pack of meat. “The excitement of gambling and knowing that they are getting a quality product keeps them coming out,” says Paul Shellum, general manager of the American Legion Post 580 of Chanhassen. “We host happy hour during the meat raffle, but it is the camaraderie among our patrons and knowing that donations are being made to help the causes that keeps this raffle alive.”

Each bar has its own unique atmosphere during a meat raffle, yet the coinciding theme is general excitement, enthusiasm and passion for helping those in need. “We host during happy hour, and depending on the time of year, we get a lot of sports fans,” says Katie Jensen, of Floyd’s Bar in Victoria. “It’s a lot of fun and very exciting.”

Earn your Minnesota cred—or just win some meat for your freezer—at one of these local hot spots.

American Legion of Chanhassen
When: 3 p.m. Sundays.
Cost: $1 per ticket.
Where the proceeds go: Military organizations, veteran causes, Cub Scouts, Legion baseball.

Chaska VFW
When: 5:30–7:30 p.m. Fridays.
Cost: $1 per ticket.
Where the proceeds go: Local charities in Chaska.

Floyd’s Bar
When: 4 p.m. Fridays.
Cost: $1 per ticket.
Where the proceeds go: Victoria Lions Club who distribute to different charities.

Waconia VFW

When: 7 p.m. Fridays.
Cost: $1 per ticket.
Where the proceeds go: Donated to charities. Parents from school organizations come in and help sell the tickets to earn money for extra-curricular activities. (For example, the Waconia Hockey Association often helps out and receives half the proceeds.)