Quails Forever banquet flying high after 12 years
Marion County Quails Forever’s annual banquet has outgrown two venues since its inception 12 years ago, but that expansion comes with complications, said Quails Forever vice president Ty Waner.
“There aren’t many places around Marion County or around Marion where you have enough space for tables and booths, let alone for people to sit down,” he said.
This year’s banquet at Florence’s community gymnasium will follow a tough act.
Last year’s banquet at the gym was the group’s biggest yet, which Waner estimated drew nearly 300 people.
“It is local, but you’d be surprised with the people coming from a ways away,” he said.
Having a big event so close to home makes the trip easier, Gene Lanning said.
“You can load up the family and everybody enjoys it,” he said. “It’s only two miles from us now so there’s no arguing going to it.”
Lanning and his family try to attend every year, especially since there are activities that interest every family member, he said.
The banquet has a silent auction and one conducted by an auctioneer.
Items offered range from firearms and tailgating equipment to women’s jewelry, and Waner said it’s important to mix up the variety each year.
“We try to come up with something unique every year,” he said. “It gets tougher the more you do it.”
Lanning’s family experienced that advantage firsthand several years ago when his oldest son won a lifetime hunting license.
It’s important to feature activities and prizes to appeal to a broad audience, Waner said.
“That gives the kids something to do while Mom and Dad are moseying around,” he said.
In addition to the prizes, Quails Forever awards an annual $500 scholarship. Having so much support for local children is what keeps Lanning coming back every year.
“What I like is that they do a lot for the youth,” he said.
The event is important because it funds other activities during the year like the group’s youth fishing day, Waner said.