Annual Pheasants Forever Banquet planned

Thursday, February 5th, 2009 at 10:15 am

Food, fun, firearms, games. And conservation of habitat.

Those are the themes of the annual banquet of the East Central Spurs chapter of Pheasants Forever, scheduled for Saturday, February 21st, in the Kettle Room of Tobies’ Restaurant in Hinckley. The 11th such event is scheduled to kick off at 4 PM that day, with a dinner at 5 PM and special events to follow.

“We had a huge success last year with the banquet,” Chapter President Kevin Hofstad explains. “We are planning on this year’s being even better. We don’t plan on participating in the recession. We are going to offer folks a really good time close to home, a chance to help out with wildlife habitat in our area and lots of chances to win really cool prizes.”

Proceeds from the annual event constitute the club’s chief fund-raiser for the entire year, according to Chapter Board Member and long-time banquet veteran Loren Samuelson of Pine City.

“We run all our programs all year long on what we earn from the banquet,” he explains.
The chapter conducts a range of programs using the proceeds – from habitat improvement to youth education. This year the club is continuing its subsidy encouragement to landowners to put in food plots for wildlife, while it is also saving some of its funds for either land acquisition or for habitat improvement projects.

“We are looking at doing a habitat project between Pine City and Hinckley on a Wildlife Management Area owned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,” according to chapter Habitat Chair Bob Joyce. “We want to put in some nesting cover so that pheasants can winter over safely. That way we can improve pheasant numbers in our county.”

But first the club needs a stellar banquet to fuel those plans. “We surveyed our attendees the last couple of years to find out what they want at the banquet,” chapter Vice President Robert Musgrove explains. “Now we have a couple years’ worth of information to help us make it even more fun and entertaining.”

The club is bringing back some games and events that the banquet-goers enjoyed, while doing away with some that were not so popular, according to Musgrove.
Attendees wanted fewer live auction items and a return of certain games the club had featured in the past. So the chapter is following the advice of its customers, according to Hofstad. He also noted that banquet-goers wanted more items for the women in attendance, so a special committee of female issue and has a budget to match. Club sponsors asked for fewer gifts and more firearms in the special sponsor raffle – so the chapter is also heeding that advice.

In 2008, over 220 banquet-goers took part in live and silent auctions, raffles for women’s gifts, a “money barrel,” youth raffles and a number of other special attractions. The chapter gave away 21 shotguns and rifles over the course of the evening to lucky patrons. The club’s 48 sponsors received a special chapter camouflage jacket with a Pheasants Forever 25th Anniversary patch, a sponsor cap and chances at a special drawing for four firearms. All took part in a meal catered by the American Legion.

“We were so successful that we grew too large to fit into the Legion,” Hofstad explains of the change in location. “The Legion folks are great folks and do a terrific job. We just got too big.”

In 2008 the group funded food plot planting, a special Youth Day at the Wings North Shooting Preserve, and sending area youngsters to a special outdoors camp free of charge. Club members plan on continuing those efforts and adding more habitat improvement projects to the mix, according to Joyce. Joyce cited an upcoming project to plant nesting cover in a Wildlife Management Area between Hinckley and Pine City as an example of the club expanding its wildlife habitat efforts.

But first, it is time to have fun. Win some prizes – maybe a shotgun or two. And raise money for a good cause.

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