Fin & Feather Banquet Raises Record Numbers
By ASHLEY SCHABLE
Plenty of smiles and good fun greeted those who came out to support the annual Lake Panorama Fin & Feather banquet and fundraiser Saturday, May 12 at Lake Panorama National Resort.
The fundraiser, which helps maintain and improve recreational fishing at Lake Panorama, was able to stock over $12,000 of walleyes, largemouth bass and perch in Lake Panorama in the fall of 2017 due to the success of the non-profit organization.
“It was a huge success,” said Scott Stanley, who chairs the local Fin & Feather. “We do not have a total dollar amount raised as we are still in the early stages of adding everything up and waiting to receive some bills, but the amount raised will be the highest on record.”
Stanley said 163 meals, prepared by Lake Panorama National Chef Andrew Labath, were served and 102 “Big Skippers” purchased for the banquet. The “Big Skipper Club” has become a mainstay of the program. For just $125, guests receive two dinner tickets, entry in the Big Skipper Raffle, their name in the program, and a one-year family membership in Lake Panorama Fin and Feather.
Fin and Feather was formed in 1984 by a group of LPA members who wanted to improve fishing at Lake Panorama. The dam was completed in 1970, and the lake filled from the flow of the Middle Raccoon River. At that time, the naturally occurring species of fish in the Middle Raccoon were largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and carp. Members wanted to expand fishing options to include walleye, which are widely considered the best fish to eat.
The group has continued ever since, and experimented with various fish stocking strategies. Walleye do not naturally reproduce in Lake Panorama, which is why annual stocking is undertaken. Fin and Feather continues to look at ways to increase the fishery, such as the addition of smallmouth bass and largemouth bass to the lake.
The formation of this independent group has provided a significant boost to fishing conditions at Lake Panorama. Members should note that Fin and Feather’s efforts extend not only to Lake Panorama, but also to the section of the Middle Raccoon River that lies below the LPA dam. This area represents some of the best river fishing that can be found in central Iowa.
The evening included a silent auction with 34 donated items, including Mother’s Day baskets, Outdoor Motion Lights, Fisherman’s Bait Bucket and Tackle, and 30-minute golf lessons with Lake Panorama National Pro John Dinnebier, to name a few.
There was also a live auction, called by auctioneer Joel Ambrose, with 37 items that brought in over $10,000. A week long stay in Keystone, Colorado sold for $1,700, a Liberty Gun Safe brought in $1,075, and both a NASCAR Xfinity Series package and a 12-foot Long Paradise Pad donated by Austin Hayden, both brought over $500.
During social hour, there were fundraising games of PLINKO, Fantastic Four, Flippy Fish, which was for the kids, but also drew several adults, and a Nerf shooting Gallery.
Cynde Cronin took her shot at the targets after getting a little help loading her Nerf gun.
“That was fun,” Cronin said, after striking a couple targets. “I need to get one of these to shoot the grandkids.”
Guests played a Heads and Tails game during a break in the live auction. Stanley flipped a quarter as participants placed their hands on their head or on their rear, as they were eliminated throughout the contest. The winners kindly donated their cash prize back to Fin & Feather.
Maureen Lubeck also lead the crowd in a song of “Happy Birthday” to honor Stanley, who not only helped organize the fundraiser, but celebrated his birthday that night.
“I would like to thank the Lake Panorama Fin & Feather committee members for volunteering their efforts to organize this banquet,” Stanley said. “A lot of time and planning goes into making this a successful event.”
Committee members include: Damon Crandall, co-chair; Doug Hemphill, treasurer; John Rutledge, secretary; Tom Ulrichson; Steve Brannan; Brad Halterman; Ted Reeve; Tom Jeschke; Bill Eby; Merlin Muench; Karl Eby; Scott Rolfes; Rich Schumacher; Mark Buster; and Larry Bergemann.
On behalf of the committee, Stanley thanked everyone who was a “Big Skipper”, and the many businesses and individuals who donated cash and prizes for the silent and live auctions. “Without them, this event wouldn’t be a success year after year,” Stanley said. “It’s a great community to live in and be part of and we can’t thank everyone enough.”
Stanley said he knows there are many fundraisers in Guthrie County and a lot of these businesses get asked time and time again for cash prize donations and the majority always give something. “We are very thankful,” he said. “The least everyone can do is try to shop local to support them as they support all of us.”
Committee member Mark Buster has launched a new website for the Fin and Feather as they attempt to increase their digital presence to grow membership and volunteer efforts, all of which, Buster says support the organization’s work on improving sporting opportunities and quality on the lake. Visit the website at http://panoramafinandfeather.com/
The 2019 Fin & Feather Banquet is scheduled for Saturday, May 11. “We look forward to seeing everyone then,” Stanley said.