Havre Daily News
Three local chapters of outdoors groups will be duking it out for donations and banquet attendees next month.
In one corner is an old favorite, the 22nd annual Fresno Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited fundraiser. The competition will be the annual dinner of the Hi-Line Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and a relative newcomer, the Milk River Gobblers banquet.
The banquets will be held within about a week of one another.
The Elk Foundation's banquet, which used to be held in April or May, was moved this year to be at the head of the pack.
A chapter committee member, Greg Greenwood, said the date was changed to March 4 because of worries that local businesses' funds would be tapped from donating to other causes by the time the foundation's banquet came around.
“We've been hearing a little negative feedback” about holding the elk banquet so close to the other two events, Greenwood said today. “We'll see after the banquet if it helped us out or not.”
He said the date change might need to be re-evaluated if it results in lower ticket sales for the ninth annual elk banquet. Ticket sales have been a little behind that of the last eight dinners, Greenwood said, partly due to complications with an online site used to sell tickets.
Greenwood said tickets usually sell out before the event. As of Wednesday night, 88 of about 180 tickets were sold for the banquet at the Duck Inn, he said. Greenwood said the group might sell tickets at the door, which it has not done before. Tickets sell at $60 per person and $80 per couple.
“Sometimes a lot of people buy at the last moment, so we might see a rush,” Greenwood said.
Funds are given to the national Elk Foundation to improve elk habitat, he said.
The banquets are the only fundraising activities for all three groups.
On March 10, the Milk River Gobblers, a local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Foundation, will hold their fourth banquet, also at the Duck Inn.
“Tickets are going fast,” Milk River Gobblers president Terry Turner said today. Tickets sell for $50 per person and $70 for couples.
Turner said someone called Wednesday to reserve two tables for about 30 people. The date of the banquet is set by the regional director of the foundation to ensure that he can attend all of the 11 Montana chapters' fundraisers.
It's too soon to tell if the event will almost sell out, as it has in previous years, Turner said.
He said he hopes the competition among banquets will not reduce the money raised by the three groups.
He added that the Gobblers' first release of wild turkeys near Chinook last month has sparked more interest in the banquet.
The money raised will go to the state chapter of the organization and will pay for local efforts to increase the wild turkey population, Turner said.
Turner said the group is selling about 160 tickets. Prizes and auction items take up quite a bit of room, he added.
The Walleyes Unlimited banquet will follow the other two. It's March 11 at the Vets Club. Tickets prices are $40 for individuals and $65 for couples.
“Turkey is the night before. I hope it doesn't have a major impact on them. It would be nice to see their organization thrive,” said Pat Lamphier, president of the Fresno Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited.
Lamphier said he hopes holding all three banquets within a short period of time won't be detrimental to the groups. He said people enjoy all the events and have their preferences.
Funds raised by the Walleyes banquet will go to developing a campground at Fresno, providing local youth-related projects, and maintaining other facilities developed by the local club, Lamphier said.
The banquets each include dinner, auctions and games. All will start with a social hour at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets for all three are available at Stromberg Sinclair and Bing N Bob's Sport Shop.