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RMEF Banquet raises over $200,000

This photo was taken shortly after the doors opened for the banquet Saturday evening. Later every seat was filled and it was elbow-to-elbow room in the aisles and hallways as over 600 people filed in for the dinner and entertainment. In this photo, the lens captured only half the width of the 6,000 square foot riding arena, which was covered with plywood sheets, donated by Plum Creek.

June 17, 1999
Seeley Swan Pathfinder

 At left is Kirk Murphy, RMEF field coordinator for Montana, presenting Monty Dolack Game Range prints to Jack and Belinda Rich, center, and Mr. and Mrs. D.K. Murphy at right. Rich Outfitters and the Murphy's East Moreno Ranch in New Mexico donated outfitting trips worth $20,000. Local resident Pat Holt wan the Rich Outfitter trip, while an out-of-stater won the Moreno Ranch hunt.

It appears that the local Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chapter is in second place nationally with last Saturday's banquet grossing over $200,000 and netting 85 percent of that gross in a fund-raiser that surprised officers of the national organization.

"There's still some stuff to come in," said Wayne Heaton, chairman of the Blackfoot/Clearwater RMEF Chapter, "and it looks like our chapter will be the highest net in the nation."

Over 600 tickets were sold and that number or more attended the banquet, which was only the second annual banquet put on locally. Last year's first banquet put the chapter second in the nation for first-time banquets.

Heaton, who along with his wife, Rena, hosted the banquet in their 6,000 square foot indoor arena, said national officials were amazed at the results.

"Gary Wolf, national president of RMEF, sat at our campfire until 3 a.m. and kept repeating that he couldn't believe what we had accomplished," Heaton said. "They just can't believe it."

That evening Heaton was given a special award by the national office that has only been given on four different occasions in the 15 years since the founding of RMEF.

 Sharon and Conrad Rowe, left, and Carol and Don Sytsma, at right, are the first of several couples and individuals called to the RMEF stage Saturday evening in recognition of the Habitat Sponsorship pledges. The stage was later too crowded for a good photo as this chapter signed up more Habitat Sponsors than most chapters do.

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