Ducks Unlimited annual banquet fundraiser Oct. 26

Ron Marquardt returns as the auctioneer for this year’s fundraiser.

Tom Henihan
South Peace News

The Smoky River chapter of Ducks Unlimited will host its annual banquet fundraiser at Centre Chevaliers in Falher, Saturday, Oct. 26.

The event features dinner, raffles, and a silent and live auction, offering decoys, prints, furniture, collectables and other unique prizes.

A new feature of midway style games introduced last year will also be a feature at this year’s event.

Local businesses and individuals, and people throughout the Peace River region donate auction items and prizes.

Ron Marquardt will be the auctioneer for the event with the merchandise focusing on outdoor activities, wildlife art and sculpture, things that have been a traditional theme for the dinner for some time.

“It is a consistent formula that DU has used for a long time,” says Ducks Unlimited committee chair, Mark Heckbert.

“However, last year was the first time we featured midway style games and it was very popular, so we will be doing that again. We will change the games up so they will be a little bit different from last year.”

With dinner, raffles, fundraising games and the silent and live auctions, the event is structured to offer guests a social, interactive and very entertaining evening.

The first Smoky River Ducks Unlimited banquet fundraiser was in 1987, so people who have supported the event over the years, may already have acquired many of the traditional items on offer.

Keeping longtime supporters in mind, Ducks Unlimited has also expanded the spectrum of items available, and is now offering auction items that provide an experience, such as an outdoor activity or a workshop.

This is the second year that Smoky River Ducks Unlimited has hosted the event at the Centre Chevaliers.

“Our approach in moving the event from the Elks Hall in McLennan to the Centre Chevalier in Falher is that we needed the additional space for the kind of dinner we wanted to run going forward,” says Heckbert.

Moving the event to the Centre Chevalier has allowed the organizers to offer the more formal, round table seating as opposed to row seating, and that change alone has enhanced the dynamic of the event.

The new location also allows space for the midway games and more room to display the auction items.

“We had a really successful dinner last year: we netted about $4,500 in 2017 and we netted $18,000 2019, so that is a huge uptick,” says Heckbert.

Wetlands play a critical role in the overall health of the natural environment: filtering water, providing wildlife habitat, reducing the risk of flooding along with providing recreational spaces for people to enjoy.

Ducks Unlimited has preserved more than 2 million acres of Alberta’s wetlands, and that substantial environmental achievement is due to partnerships with local communities, companies and individuals who support DU conservation efforts.

DU Canada has completed 81 wetland projects within a 100-km radius of Smoky River, covering 71,967 acres with a total investment of $5,529,171. The local Smoky River committee has raised to date $450,837.

For every $1 raised at events such as the annual dinner, DU translates that dollar into $13 to go into wetlands preservation and restoration.

The DU banquet has been an important local event for over thirty years and the recent changes to the banquet illustrates that the event is still gaining momentum.

On Oct. 26, the doors open at 5:30 p.m. at the Centre Chevalier and the event usually wraps up around 1 a.m., so it is a really good night out.

On the menu are baked salmon, roast beef and a whole host of sides. Desert is shortcake with mixed berry topping and whipped cream.

“We had 160 people attend last year’s event. That is a sold out event and that is our goal again this year, to sell around 160 tickets,” says Heckbert.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call Heckbert at [780] 523-0979.

People attending the Ducks Unlimited Banquet 2018, try their hand at one of the midway-style games that will feature again this year’s event.

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