'For a good cause'

Annual NRA banquet raises money for youth gun education

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Everything from a Weatherby rifle to two yards of concrete was on the auction block at the annual fundraiser sponsored by the Friends of the National Rifle Association on Saturday at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

The 200 seats for the event, which sold out the week before the dinner and auction, were filled with attendees who had plenty to do, from entering raffles and playing games to socializing with acquaintances before the prime rib was served.

"The funds raised from this event are used for education and conservation," said Chairman Craig Rummel. "Last year, we raised more than $17,000."

Rummel said half of the money raised stays in the local community to support programs in Moffat County, and during the past 10 years the group has raised $139,000.

"It's been really popular for years," Rummel said. "The businesses in the community have really supported this event. That's why it's a success."

Craig resident Denise Williams wandered through the tables loaded with items for auction, and said half of the fun was the auction itself.

"You get caught up in it," she said. "I have bought items at the auctions in the past. I am signed up for a few things tonight, also."

Williams said she attends every year because the organization is supporting a good cause, and the money goes to youths and education.

Otis Fleetwood agrees, and said that's why he has been coming to the event for years.

"I think it's a lot of fun. And it's for a good cause," he said.

Prior to dinner, guests mingled with friends and entered silent auctions hoping to take home a rifle or artwork depicted hunting scenes. They signed up to win the Weatherby rifle and "golden boy" Henry rifles on display.

A jar filled with assorted ammunition was part of a contest to guess the number of shells, in a variation of the usual "jelly bean" jar.

Dave Lee, the field representative from the NRA, came from Fort Morgan to attend the event. He said the nonprofit, non-political, organization is very important to the NRA.

"The money raised goes to 4-H and women's shooting programs," Lee said. "We give out college scholarships and support local 'Eddie the Eagle' programs to teach younger children about firearm safety."

Local committees decide how the funds are to be used, with recent money going to college scholarships, pistols for the new air pistol league and the Craig Trap Club to purchase youth shotguns and for range development.

This was the 11th year of the Friends of the NRA banquet.

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