By Krystal Spring/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Havre will play host to a group of former National Football League players who are descending on the city today to help raise money for Montana State University-Northern's football program.
The fourth annual Legends for Lights Pheasant Jamboree, sponsored by the Northern Lights Athletic and Scholarship Foundation, will feature 22 former NFL players and five National Hockey League players, said Havre car dealer Mike Tilleman, who helped found the event. The stars include longtime NFL player and University of Montana Hall of Fame inductee Guy Bingham, Tom Lysiak - the NHL's 1974 rookie of the year, and former Washington Redskins defensive end and Olympic shot-putter Shane Collins.
Tilleman, a former NFL player himself, said he's been inviting people to come to his farm to hunt pheasants for years, but his guests didn't left anything in the community. Tilleman said that fact, combined with Northern's need for money in the athletics program, gave him the idea to start a fund-raiser to benefit the college in 2001.
"This brings a lot of people from all over the U.S. and Canada to Havre to spend some money and support our kids at our college," he said.
Tilleman said last year's Jamboree brought in close to $50,000. The money goes toward football scholarships for MSU-N athletes.
The money is raised from a variety of sponsorships of the four-person teams that go pheasant hunting on area ranches and farms during the weekend. The sponsors include a number of local businesses and a couple of national companies. The teams are made up of the visiting sports dignitaries and other hunters who are usually affiliated with the event's sponsoring companies. Individuals can also buy spots on the hunting teams.
Tilleman said the teams compete for the longest feather and the longest spur.
"Some of these guys have never shot a shotgun before," he added. "We have a little safety course and everything. It's a lot of fun."
Along with the pheasant shoot, a trap shoot and several dinners highlight the weekend Jamboree. The legends also plan to attend a Northern football game on Saturday and the Taste of Havre and the Hi-Line on Sunday night.
"It's really just a neat thing for the entire community," Tilleman said. "This gives us the ability to bring the entire community together with the legends and we get to enjoy them for the time that they're here. It's great to see.
"This is a huge undertaking," Tilleman said. "It takes hundreds of people to put this on farmers, merchants, legends, the entire community."
The event kicks off tonight with a Jim Beam and Pepsi-sponsored legends registration at the Townhouse Inns' hospitality room from 7 to 10. The trap shoot begins Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Havre Trap Club. A football tailgate follows the trap shoot from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the east alley of Blue Pony Stadium. A barbecue at the Townhouse Inns begins for hunters and sponsors at 6 p.m. Saturday. The pheasant hunt will be held Sunday and Monday.
Sunday's Taste of Havre lasts from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Holiday Village Shopping Center. Local restaurants and civic organizations will present their best cooking and baking, all for a $10 cost of admission for individuals and $25 for families. An autographed football will be available for family ticketholders while supplies last.
Legends will be available for autographs and pictures throughout the Jamboree weekend.
Some of the other former NFL and NHL players participating this year are Doug Betters, Lanny McDonald, Jack Patera, Don Talbert and Mick Tinglehoff.