Skeet will fill the air Saturday, April 12, during what is promised to be the social event of the year.
Now in its 13th year, the Upland Bird Extravaganza, presented by the Stephenville Evening Lions Club, looks to continue its tradition of benefiting local youth through the two-day fund-raiser that has garnered more than $200,000.
Last year, the event brought in more than $35,000 for various youth organizations and sports teams. The primary beneficiary is the Texas Trails Council of Boy Scouts of America. Les Zimmerman, district executive for the council and Evening Lions Club member, said proceeds from the event have helped fund numerous programs that impact area youth.
Funds from the event have allowed for the creation of scholarships to summer camp programs. While the net proceeds give organizers great satisfaction, the fun of the event itself is enough to justify its continuation.
“It’s a heck of a lot of fun. There’s just tons of great food and there’s a lot of money that is being raised for great causes to benefit the kids,” said Ben Cornish, club member and event organizer.
It’s a lot of work, too. Preparation for the event began just after last year’s finished, Cornish said, and the club met once a week during March to make sure everything was taken care of.
To kick off the event, a wild game dinner and auction will begin at 6 p.m., Friday, April 11, and continue until 9 p.m. at City Hall, adjacent to City Limits. Admission to the dinner is $15 per person or $25 per couple.
“We serve close to 600 people on Friday night, and in the last several years it’s grown tremendously,” said Cornish.
Those attending the dinner will enjoy samples of buffalo, elk, moose, deer, caribou, rabbit, dove, quail and wild hog. The more adventurous diners can also choose from unusual entrees such as squirrel, raccoon, rattlesnake and possum.
For those with weaker stomachs, cooks will serve beef brisket and sausage with all the trimmings.
“Most of the members in our club our hunters. We all have stock of wild game that we’ve personally taken while some has been contributed,” said Cornish. “The wild game dinner is cooked by professionals, as we like to say. We’re not professional chefs, but we are professionals - namely, doctors, lawyers and the like.”
As part of the Friday night dinner, the Evening Lions will hold a silent and live auction. Everyone who walks through the door will be provided with a ticket for a chance to win a $500 cash prize.
Other items up for bid include high-end guns, guided hunting trips, wildlife artwork and a custom felt hat donated by Capital Hatters. Local DPS Trooper Vernon Gaines has also donated a wild hog hunt, complete with guides and hunting dogs.
Several lucky individuals will walk away with some great prizes, too, after this year’s raffle, of which only 300 tickets are available for $100 each. The grand prize is a cruise travel voucher valued at $3,500 that can be put towards any destination. Other prizes include three or more quality guns.
The fun continues on Saturday, with shooting events beginning at 9 a.m. on Horton Ranch, about seven miles south of Stephenville on FM 914. The gates open at 8 a.m. with the competition drawing to a close at approximately 4 p.m., said Cornish.
Last year’s event, which drew about 300 people, was better than organizers had ever dreamed, Cornish said.
On Saturday, three separate shooting events will be going on simultaneously at the ranch, including a covey flush, 5-stand and “Annie Oakley” competitions. Participants are asked to bring their own gun and shells. Ear and/or eye protection is also strongly recommended.
“It’s extremely safe. Our primary concern is safety, and everything is set up to where there’s no way you can get hurt,” said Cornish.
Winners in each competition will split cash prizes, while the winner of the team 5-stand event will be awarded a traveling trophy.
Following the shooting events, Cornish and fellow Lions will provide a crawfish boil dinner.
Pre-sale tickets for the event are available at Lawyer’s Abstract (South Loop office), Stephenville New Holland, Tanglewood Pharmacy and Discount Wheel & Tire. Tickets will also be available at the door Friday night.
Cornish said sponsorships for the event are still available. For more information, call 965-5253, or visit www.eveninglions.org.