The local chapter of the Friends of the NRA held its annual banquet at Cloverleaf Hall last Saturday, Oct. 18, with more donors, more sponsors, underwriters and guests than were seen in last year’s already healthy turnout. Almost all local supporters stayed to the end of the banquet for the announcement of the winners of the a new raffle titled “the Table of Guns.”

Chairman of the Friends committee, Steve Wolfe, said the banquet topped last year in almost every category and was extremely successful. Wolfe said, “It’s always a better event when you play to a full house.”

The evening started out with social hour and the silent auction. Most of the items in the silent auction were donated, but the Friends also undertook some local shopping to fill up the tables. The crowd-pleasing “Wall of Guns” raffle also was going on. An excellent catered dinner prepared by Tammy Couch and barbecuer Randy Garnett followed. Gary Bethscheider of the Stubborn Mule provided drinks.

The live auction followed with 34 items on the docket. People donating cash to the event were considered underwriters in the auction along with local and far-away sponsors who contributed everything from guns to hunting trips. Some of the notable items were the “Gun of the Year,” an NRA Matched Set Colt XSE .45 and .380, handguns, underwritten by Community Bank (which has sponsored this every year since the dinner’s inception), a Charlie Daniels signed guitar, a New Zealand red stag hunt and some tickets to the National Rodeo Finals.

The new raffle, “The Table of Guns,” held everybody’s attention until the end. In this raffle an envelope was placed on each table with spaces for eight people to sign their names and place $20 in it. After the auction, a table number was drawn and everybody who entered at the table won a pistol. If a table did not fill the spaces on the envelope, anybody from anywhere could sign those envelopes. Table 15 had two people from their table sign the envelope while others came along and filled in the rest of the blanks. Steve Wolfe said, “Too bad for Table 15.” There were 250 people signed up for the raffle out of a possible 268 entries.

A special guest appearance by two Iraqi war veterans was another highlight of the night. The pair from Boise, Aaron Modrell and Marshall Davis, brought in an ATV wheel chair for disabled veterans and showed it off for the crowd. The Friends of the NRA fully funded the grant that Divide Camp used to buy the chair last year. The veterans brought it to the dinner after working at Divide Camp, the rural Joseph retreat for war veterans, all last week.

Besides spending locally over $12,000 on the banquet itself over the last few years, the Friends of the NRA has spent close to $100,000 (and possibly more) for projects in Wallowa County. Most of the money goes to anything that has to do with sportsman shooting activities, but some also went last year to college scholarships awards to three high school kids – two from Wallowa and one in Joseph – for outstanding academic achievement.

Steve Wolfe wanted to thank all those involved in this year’s banquet, including sponsors, donors and attendees. He said if anything changes at all next year, it might be the venue because the event has nearly outgrown Cloverleaf Hall.

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