Since March 14, 2020, RMEF hasn’t held a single banquet—until now. On June 13, the Selkirk Crest Chapter in Idaho was the first chapter to open its banquet doors to raise funds for elk country since shutting down due to COVID-19. It was great to get back to work, raising money for the cause.
Selkirk Crest Committee members in Sandpoint, Idaho, did a great job bringing it all together. When they chose to reschedule from their original April date, June 13 was the only option that worked for the entire committee. Idaho had a four-stage plan to reopen. When this plan was released in early May, the earliest Idaho was predicted to reach stage 4 (which allowed for any-size gatherings with social distancing and sanitary precautions) was the same date as the planned banquet—June 13. It was going to be touch and go, and there was no room for error. As the state moved through the various stages of reopening, the Selkirk Committee marched forward, assuming the best, maintaining a positive attitude.
When the doors flew open, we had 272 people attend, which miraculously, was only down eight people from 2019. The room filled rapidly, and it was exciting to see how happy everyone was to finally get out and have a good time. The committee was vigilant in making sure our guests were comfortable and felt safe. There were servers for the buffet. Every table had hand sanitizer that was acquired from a local distillery. There was seating for about 70 extra people. Only six chairs were at each 8-foot table.
The banquet was a huge success! The numbers were impressive. Sponsor members were up, the live auction was up $6,000, and games and raffles were right on line with last year.
A few noteworthy insights:
- Pre-event raffles were down but raffle/game sales at the event were up over prior years
- As expected, people were itching to get out and socialize
On the heels of this success, the Panhandle Chapter in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, held its big game banquet at an outdoor venue on June 28. Although a downpour hit the outdoor event and attendees had to take a short break and run for cover, it was a great night for elk country. Nine new life members and 77 sponsor members signed up.
I want to personally thank all of the volunteers that are helping RMEF maintain operation during these times of uncertainty. Their passion, dedication and positive attitude are what makes this organization what it is today. It’s the reason we will continue to thrive as we move through this moment in time.
By Wayne Brood
RMEF Regional Director, Idaho