The annual Seneca County Pheasants Forever banquet and fundraiser always is a sign of spring, and this year's 25th anniversary March 22 is actually two days after spring officially starts.
Val Gillig, now in her 18th year as banquet chairwoman, said the fundraiser will be similar to other years but, as always, will have a few new twists.
Tickets are on sale now for the catered dinner and fundraiser. It's open to everyone, but tickets must be purchased by March 17. No tickets are sold at the door. Tickets are $65 per couple, or $50 per single, which includes dinner and membership. Dinners for additional family members are $15 each.
Doors open at 5 p.m., and people may choose to serve themselves from the buffet line any time before 7 p.m. While dinner is being served, raffle tables are open and silent auction items are ready for bidding.
It's a fun atmosphere for donating money to a great cause. People can use their Rooster Bucks they receive if they buy the Deal of the Night for raffles and ticket tables. A ticket for a special drawing, plus $100 in Rooster Bucks, is available for $70.
In addition to the silent auction, games include a reverse raffle, several other types of raffles and a live auction.
New this year is a raffle of Stihl brand equipment such as string weed trimmer, chainsaw, leaf blower and pole saw.
"We have a 'Duck Dynasty' raffle, too," she said. "We have over 100 little rubber ducks that will be numbered, and the prizes on that are going to be his and hers guns."
In addition to a variety of artwork on the live auction, this year features a hand-carved "cigar-store" Indian statue, a Yuengling mirror and "a great big bear trap," she said. Guns on the live auction are a .44-caliber Henry Golden Big Boy and an Ithaca.
"And we have a couple of handcrafted limited-edition knives, a fillet knife and a Damascus knife," she said.
Tickets also are on sale for PF's annual gun raffle. They are $20 and can be purchased at Mountain Man Tradin Post, SR 53. The drawing takes place at the banquet.
Where does the money go?
Gillig said more than $14,000 was raised at the banquet last year.
"We try to educate everybody on the importance of habitat," she said.
One educational use is to fund an annual youth pheasant hunt in October where children are guided on hunts.
Money also was used to purchase trees that were planted at Kelbley Wildlife Area, a property maintained by the chapter, and for buying grass seed for cropland farmers who have enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program. CRP is an important program for providing habitat for pheasants, rabbits and ground-nesting birds.
Gillig said a field trip is planned this spring where people can see the habitat improvements being made, but a date has not been set.
Also to help explain conservation programs available, Seneca County's new wildlife biologist, Dustin Lamoreaux, plans to be on hand at the
banquet to meet people and answer questions.
Those with questions or donations can call Gillig at (419) 937-2264.
Vicki Johnson reports on the outdoors and agriculture for The A-T. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.