Feeding 500 | RecordCourier.com

Feeding 500

by Jonni Hill

What does it take to feed more than 500 people at a fundraising dinner? Team work and lots of it. Saturday, the 21st annual Carson Valley Chukar Club fundraiser took place at the Douglas County Fairgrounds pavilion, an event that draws about 700 individuals every year and, in 2006 raised more than $72,000 to benefit wildlife preservation.

A caravan of trucks converged on the fairgrounds at 9 a.m. and a flurry of activity continued through the day as sawhorses and long boards were brought down from a storage area to create tables. Rolls of white paper became table cloths to cover the boards. Rack after rack of folding chairs were delivered by the truck load, all in preparation for the event.

Members of the Carson Valley Clays, some who are also members of the Carson Valley Chukar Club, were in charge of the food preparation for the dinner.

“I order the same thing and the same amount every year,” Carson Valley Clays president Dave Sharp said. “We have been doing this for so long now, we have it down to a science. It is one thing to have leftovers and it is another thing to run out of food. We have always had enough for everybody.”

The rich smells of 60 pounds of chorizo and hamburger simmered with 75 pounds of chopped onion and 15 pounds of bell pepper, filled the pavilion from the cooking area. Butch Begovich and Andy Concannon collaborated on the concoction and pride themselves on what is thought to be the best chili in the county, also included gallons of salsa and 32 1-gallon cans of pinto, kidney, black beans, chili con carne and chili without meat, as well as 3 gallons of baked beans just to sweeten the pot. These would slow simmer for the entire day in huge vats, stirred occasionally by big wooden paddles in the hands of eager volunteers hoping for a small sample.

Pickup trucks full of condiments, paper plates and napkins, briquettes for the barbecue, everything imaginable in bulk, necessary to serve the crowd that would be arriving in several hours, were unloaded by a relay line of helpers. Gallons of salad and salad dressing and boxes of rolls all were being arranged and readied for the event.

Next thing to arrive was the massive barbecue and 500 pounds of well-seasoned tri-tip to be cooked under the guidance of Don Cooper, Bruce Lawrence, Ted Strandberg and Jeff Dinsmore. The refreshment stand and a no-host bar was organized in the back of the pavilion and managed by Renée Harrington, owner of the French Bar in Gardnerville and her employee, Jill Radtke along with chukar club members serving drinks as fast as they could pour them.

By 2 p.m. the stage was being set for all the rifles, shotguns, fishing equipment, wildlife artwork and a vast array of outdoor equipment that would be available for the raffle and live auction MCed by Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini.

Early arrivals started filtering in around 4 p.m. for the event that wasn’t scheduled to begin until 5 p.m. Within an hour it was almost standing-room only and orderly chaos reigned as the crowd passed along in the food line, finding seats at the long tables, each praying they would be one of the lucky winners during the raffle and auction.

Everything had returned to normal by noon on Sunday as a small army of volunteers packed up and put away all signs of the event. Another successful year for the Carson Valley Chukar Club had come to a close.

To become a member of the Carson Valley Chukar Club, you will have to wait until next year’s dinner; the cost of the ticket for the event includes your membership for one year. For those interested in becoming a member of the Carson Valley Clays, you must be sponsored by a CVC member, participate in some of the league shoots at the club on China Spring Road, and then be voted in by the board of directors. Information, contact Dave Sharp at 265-4445.