Three Rivers Buglers event continues to grow
By PAUL DAVIS
The Three Rivers Buglers chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the community which supports it, continues to impress.
More than 400 people turned out for the organization's 18th annual big game banquet Saturday at the Black River Coliseum, easily making it one of the largest such events annually held in Poplar Bluff, Mo.
"Everything went really well," said committee member Rick White, who also noted everyone "seemed to enjoy themselves."
An early social hour gave visitors the opportunity to win various items from a silent auction, as well as various games and raffles.
"We had a little bit of everything," said White of the items up for grabs, which included hunting gear, framed art prints, home decor and more. "We had plenty of knives, scopes and other optics."
Tables geared specifically for women and children also were popular, White said.
"The kids table went over really well," he said. "I think everyone who went to it got something."
As a special touch, every lady, "from age 1 to 100," White said, was presented a rose in honor of Mother's Day.
After the social hour, a steak and chicken dinner from Tasteful Creations was served.
"The meal was excellent," said committee member Lenard Wagganer. "Everyone commented on how good it was."
The dinner was followed by a live auction, again with a large assortment of items available.
Haven Willis, Speedy Ketcherside and Felix Baker were the auctioneers.
"They volunteer every year and did a fantastic job for us," White said.
A big item on the live auction was a Wyoming mule deer hunt donated by Kenny Hart. It was won by Jamie Toon, who also purchased it last year.
Over the course of the night, 46 guns were given away, Wagganer said, including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Gun of the Year, a 7mm Kimber Mountain Ascent rifle, which went home with Toon.
Last year's event drew 92 sponsors, enough to put the local chapter in third place in the nation for its sponsor numbers. This year, it topped that mark with an even 100 sponsors.
"We just appreciate them so much," said White. "This really shows the community stands behind us."
"Poplar Bluff and the local area is just unbelievable," he said. "People are really generous."
At the end of the night, the banquet brought in about $82,000, White noted.
Money raised at banquets, like this one, are used by RMEF to preserve and improve wildlife habitat in a variety of places and not only does that work benefit elk, but also other species of wildlife as well.
Elk have been back in Missouri for five years now, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was instrumental in their restoration by funding the initial feasibility study and portions of the stocking program.
Next year's banquet, White noted, will be held the night before Mother's Day, on May 13.