Touch of Nature Buffalo Tro 2023

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Touch of Nature Buffalo Tro Crowd

Touch of Nature Buffalo Tro on November 17, 2023

The annual Touch of Nature Buffalo Tro is returning on November 17th, 2023 at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center. Those attending the Tro can expect a fun night of good food, local beer and wine, and a chance to support Touch of Nature. The Buffalo Tro is a steak dinner that takes inspiration from the ceremonial meal that was common among the Plains Indians. The meal features a steak cooked over hot, stacked hardwood with a baked potato, salad, rolls, and dessert. Music for the evening will be provided by Curt Carter and Friends.

Tickets are $50 each or $375 for a table that seats 8. Each ticket includes 1 entrée and 2 glasses of wine. Tickets for the Touch of Nature Buffalo Tro are available now. For more information or to learn more, call 618-453-1121.


Buffalo Tro Tickets

The History Behind the Buffalo Tro

The Buffalo Tro tradition has been a part of Southern Illinois University/Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center for over fifty years.  Thousands of visitors have taken part in this ancient ceremony, which originated with the American Plains Indians as a means to feed the tribe in its entirety.  The Buffalo Tro offers a unique opportunity to socialize and enjoy a memorable steak dinner, cooked on an open coal fire in the true native tradition. 

For centuries, the nomadic Plains tribes travelled great distances in search of the mighty buffalo.  The bison was the ultimate provider, giving the people food, clothing, tools, and other materials necessary for survival.  The Buffalo Tro is an adaption of a Plains Indian cooking technique. The Plains Indians used fresh buffalo meat and, since firewood was scarce, the meat was cooked directly on the coals of buffalo chips. Luckily for us, our cooks use hardwood in place of chips. A fire pit of oak, hickory, or maple is lit and burned for three to four hours and then the coals are raked into a bed six to eight inches deep. After a ceremony the “tro-ers” place the steaks directly on the coals, and the intense heat cauterizes the pores in the meat keeping the juices inside. The steaks are then “scraped” or “clinked” to remove coals before serving, and distributed to the gathering.

Native Americans viewed nature, and especially the bison, as gifts from their Creator, or Great Spirit.  In turn, they felt an obligation of stewardship, to preserve, maintain, and share the gifts that they had received.  Here at Touch of Nature, we are indebted to those who came before us.  Individuals such as  Lloyd B. Sharp, who introduced the Buffalo Tro to southern Illinois, as well as SIUC President Delyte Morris and recreation visionary William Freeberg, helped create Touch of Nature and left a legacy in line with Native beliefs.  Please join us for a memorable dining experience as we reflect on the past and look to the future; help support Touch of Nature in its continued mission of service in outdoor, environmental, inclusive, and experiential programs.