Over 900 hunting and fishing enthusiasts gathered at the Fernie Memorial Arena on Saturday night, to celebrate another year of outdoor living in the Elk Valley.
Events for the evening stretched from 3 p.m. to midnight, with award ceremonies, silent auctions, bucket raffle draws, a dinner feast and live auctions throughout.
Attending the banquet were members from Fernie and as far as Calgary. There were also some attendees from Medicine Hat, Cranbrook, the entire Elk Valley as well as the Crowsnest Pass.
“I think it went very well,” said Club President, Kevin Marasco. “We had a great turnout, sellout crowd of 900 again.”
This is the fourth year the Rod and Gun Club has hosted this event in the Fernie Memorial Arena. They previously hosted it in the Community Centre but in recent years, found space to be limited.
Over 100 prizes were available to be won, and this year offered some of the best loot yet.
These included 15 live auction lots, 86 bucket draw prizes, and eight big prizes.
Mystery pack live auction winners – Brett Garlock, Richard Garlock and Clayton Hutchinson bet on the mystery pack live auction, and won a hunting trip for four to Africa plus a Browning rifle a KUIU pack, and some Springbok pillows.
Ryan Beauchesne won the Arctic Cat HDX 700 XT side-by-side UTV from Boston Pizza.
A long range Christenson Arms ELR 300 with a Zeiss scope was up for grabs, and was a popular hit with most.
Fourteen-year-old Teagan McCullough won a Ruger 10/22 rifle.
Kyle Gagne won a Henry 45/70 Golden Boy.
The OSG Stealth Pro dinghy was won by the Beauchesne family.
A hot tub from Snow Valley Spa and Leisure was won by Steve Wilson.
The 50-50 draw reached a record-breaking high of $7770.00, half of which went to Friends for Friends, and half went to lucky winner, Chad Bowen.
The Fernie Rod and Gun club has had its roots planted in the mountain town since 1889. Since then, it has grown and expanded from an elite gentleman’s club to a vast and far-reaching, all inclusive club, now over 2500 strong.
Marasco has been club president for nearly nine years, and remembers when the club used to host the banquet in the Best Western for only 100 people. As numbers grew, they moved to the Catholic hall, and then the community centre and eventually the arena.
Even in the past 10 years, the club has grown from 100 to 700 memberships, which equals around 200-2500 people as one family is considered one membership.
“It’s gotten really popular,” said Marasco. “It sells out every year.”
Marasco believes their growth in popularity is largely thanks to their youth programs.
“If you do a lot of stuff, and it is what people like to see, it grows and people want to be a part of it.”
Every child that captures an animal, fish or wildlife, receives a plaque of their catch to keep a record of their accomplishment.
Marasco has two boys of his own, and has made sure to give them the opportunity to fish and hunt as they grow up, immersing them in nature from a young age.
“I just want the opportunity for all the kids out there for the next 30 or 40 years. That’s the big thing,” he said.
Programs for youth kick off this month and carry on throughout the summer. Visit Ferniergc.com for more information.