Ducks Unlimited banquet June 4
It makes catchy word play, but when it comes to fundraisers, Ducks Unlimited doesn't just wing it.
Far from it, in fact, as the Watauga County chapter is hosting its annual banquet on June 4, with cocktails, dinner, live entertainment, auctions and all-around fun - and for a good cause.
Though Ducks Unlimited (DU) is commonly mistaken as "for duck hunters only," chapter founder and chairman Scott Farfone begs to differ.
"Ducks Unlimited's mission is to protect the wetlands, and that doesn't just involve ducks, but other birds, waterfowl, fish, amphibians - we have plenty of wetlands up here," he said, and the list goes on. "And some members don't even duck hunt; they just support the conservation aspects."
DU's N.C. Sound CARE (Conservation of Agriculture, Resources and the Environment) program is described as an effort "to protect, restore and enhance wetlands in North Carolina and the breeding areas that are most important to waterfowl wintering in North Carolina."
According to Sound CARE, between 1974 and 1983, North Carolina lost 1.2 million wetland acres, which is the equivalent of 250 football fields being lost every day for 10 years.
To date, Ducks Unlimited (DU) has spent $14,428,182 in wetland conservation in North Carolina, conserving 68,063 acres, Farfone said.
In 2009, and with a membership of 26,369 in state, grassroots fundraising alone generated $1,198,926, he said, adding that funds raised at the local banquet will further boost that sum.
The Watauga chapter has a membership of about 200, and Farfone's looking to raise that number, as well. The banquet serves not only as fellowship for current members, but an opportunity for others to join.
The ticket price - $35 for one, $50 per couple - comes with a one-year membership, which includes a subscription to the DU magazine, discounts at participating businesses and hotels, "and a sweet sticker," member John Lord said.
But, of course, there's more, including satisfaction in helping preserve North Carolina wetlands, Farfone said.
Membership notwithstanding, the banquet offers a slew of prizes and benefits, including dinner from Woodland's Barbecue, cocktails throughout the evening, raffles, door prizes, live bluegrass from Carolina Crossing, and a live and silent auction.
Among some of the near-100 items on the auction block are art prints, bronze sculptures, hand-carved decoys, collectible knives and firearms, outdoor furniture, fishing trips, binoculars, duck calls and a DU-edition camouflaged guitar, all of which Farfone called "a good mix of stuff."
"Just about everyone walks out with something," Lord said, adding that last year's banquet saw a full turnout.
They hope to add to the ranks. The chapter meets monthly at various locations throughout the county. "It's pretty casual and laid-back," Farfone said.
"A lot of it's fellowship with likeminded people," Lord said.
Farfone started the local chapter four years ago, and it's since been hailed as one of the more successful chapters in western North Carolina, receiving DU's Canvasback Award for Outstanding Contributions.
They hope to keep that reputation with this year's banquet, scheduled for Friday, June 4, at the Foscoe Grandfather Community Center, located at 233 Park Road, right off N.C. 105.
Doors open at 6 p.m., as does the bar, and dinner will be served at 7 p.m., with the auction set for 8 p.m.
Tickets are available at Foscoe Fishing Company, located at 8857 N.C. 105 South, or by calling (828) 963-6556. Farfone suggests purchasing tickets in the advance, since the banquet typically sells out.
For more information on Ducks Unlimited, visit http://www.ducks.org.