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NWTF chapter gearing up for weekend banquet

South Point -- Robert Burcham's passion for family, turkeys and hunting shines through as he talks about the National Wild Turkey Federation South Hills Chapter's upcoming membership banquet.

It will be held from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Grandview Inn.

Burcham, the banquet chairman, is excited about the banquet and said there will be something for everyone including raffles, door prizes, live and silent auctions and drawings for youth members. They will auction and raffle 15 guns, artists'

prints and more than $1,500 in cash.

The banquet raises money to purchase public land for hunting, help maintain habitats for wild turkeys, take kids on hunting trips and grant a $500 scholarship to a graduating senior each year, he said.

In addition to the regular memberships, there are three groups within the NWTF -- Women in the Outdoors, Wheelin' Sportsmen, for the handicapped and JAKES (Juveniles Acquiring Knowledge and Ethics).

"In general, we basically want to support all wildlife and the women and children who are the future of hunting," he said.

This is their eighth year hosting the banquet and they are always in the top five in the state when it comes to fund raising. They helped purchase 14,000 acres from Crown City Mining to use for public hunting, he said.

"It is pretty amazing how much support we receive," he said.

"But we are about a lot more than just raising money."

Burcham said the Turkey Federation is like a big family.

He gets excited when he talks about his 7-year-old daughter bagging her first turkey.

Last year, she got out of bed early before school four times but didn't get one. She is really hoping to get one this year, he said.

"The NWTF gives parents and kids a chance to bond and helps keep the kids out of trouble," he explained. "That is what we are all about."

Normally, about 225 people from across the Tri-State attend the annual banquet, he said. This year he expects State Senator Mike Shoemaker, 17th District, and State Representative John Carey, 94 District, to attend.

Anyone interested in attending must contact Burcham at 867-8475 or 867-3088 by Thursday evening. This event is alcohol free and people are encouraged to bring their children.

Prices are:

Single dinner and adult membership $45

Couples dinner and one adult membership $65

Additional dinners for adults $20

Youth ages 12-17 dinner and membership$20

Youth ages 4-11 dinner and membership$15 Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune