ESTEVAN - Despite one of the most intense Estevan Bruins' games of the season happening next door, the Estevan Wildlife Federation's 36th annual fundraising dinner and auction had over 300 people joining them for a great night.
After two years of a break, hunters, anglers, wildlife photographers, their families and supporters of the organization finally had a chance to get together and have a good time.
The night started with a dinner, followed by a pick of the litter draw and a traditional live auction with many items to be purchased. Silent auction and various raffles also had dozens of goods to offer.
Kendra Lainton, who organized the event alongside Monica Eagles, said it was a bit of a challenge to put everything together this year. Not only has it been a while since the last event, but they also had way less time to organize everything.
"At times, it almost felt like the first time we were doing it because we had to refresh our memories on how everything worked out all over again," Lainton said. "And we actually had less time this year than normal. Normally we take three to four months to plan it. And because we were late waiting for COVID restrictions to lift, we crunched it down to about a month and a half."
While the weeks leading up to the event were intense, the results were good, and the evening went well. They had a lot of people in attendance, and the community support they received was on par with previous years.
"Monica and I are happy with the turnout, happy with how everything went. We couldn't have done it without the volunteers that helped us out. And we were just excited to get back. We were happy to see faces again. That was definitely nice. There was a lot of socializing that everybody was looking forward to, and I think that was half the excitement of the evening to be able to be out and see everybody again. We just look forward to getting everything back the way it was and being able to do it again next year," Lainton said.
The program was similar to years before, with many fun and exciting raffle games as well as the auctions. Lainton said that some of their bid items, though, were new. For example, it was the first time when they were able to offer a wolf hunting and guided fishing at Rafferty experiences. They didn't have any extravagant trips this year, as they didn't have enough time to put them together, but they hope to bring those attractions back next time.
The organizing committee didn't have the fundraising total yet, but the preliminary numbers looked good.
"We're still going through numbers. We are considering it a great success, though. We don't have any final numbers or anything yet, but considering the amount of time people had to plan and figure out if they wanted to come or not, we're happy with what we've got for sure," Lainton said. "It's definitely going to give us a big help and allow us to tackle some bigger projects that we were probably holding off on for the last couple of years."
The dinner is the EWF's biggest fundraiser of the year, which allows them to maintain the properties they supervise and helps with various programs they are running.