Another Mountain State Forest Festival has come and gone. I think everyone who participated in the activities last week was able to get through it without having to be in the hospital due to eating too much carnival food or over-exertion.
The Forest Festival week is a very busy time for the Mountaineer Chapter of the Izaak Walton League. Several of the members were busy trying to sell raffle tickets on expensive outdoor prizes. Others were out at the club house on Files Creek Road helping to get ready for the buckwheat pancake and sausage feed held on Sunday morning, the day after the Grand Feature Parade.
I helped sell tickets at the booth in the City Park for about an hour Friday afternoon, and on Saturday morning from daybreak to about noon. I also helped clean things up at the clubhouse on Sunday afternoon when the feed was over.
The winner of the Browning X-bolt, 25-06 caliber rifle, equipped with a 4x12x40 scope, was Travis Taylor of Elkins. This prize was valued at $1,500. The winner of the Mathew Solo Cam Heli-X bow, valued at $1,300, was John Brown of Nicholas County.
All the money taken in from this raffle goes to the youth activities sponsored by the Mountaineer Chapter Izaak Walton League. This past June I had a column about the youth fish catch and air-rifle shoot that they had in May. This past August, the chapter held its youth conservation day. According to those who helped conduct this event, the weather was ideal. This activity was open to all young people ages 8-17. A total of 48 youngsters registered and several others who were not eligible enjoyed watching. There were six stations each kid had to go through that included air rifle, animal identification, archery, fishing, shooting clays and stream ecology. Each station was non-competitive, but educational and fun.
A free lunch was provided to all participants and workers. The food was prepared by the chapter volunteer members.
In September, the chapter sponsored an air rifle shoot held at the Tygart Valley Muzzleloaders Shooting Range on Files Creek Road. This event was open to all kids ages 7-17. The equipment and supplies necessary were provided by the chapter. Like the conservation shoot, it was non-competitive. The real purpose of this event was to get youth interested in shooting sports with high emphasis on shooting safety and shooting range etiquette. This activity was made possible due to a grant from the National Rifle Association and funds from the Mountaineer Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.
The Tygart Valley National Wild Turkey Federation Chapter works very closely with the Izaak Walton League with its youth activities. This year, the TVNWTF had two prizes in their Forest Festival Raffle. The first was the winner's choice of a Remington 20 gauge youth shotgun and a chest of eight custom-made box-type turkey calls. The second prize winner received the remaining prize not picked by the first-place winner.
Revenue taken in from this raffle goes to sponsoring their Jakes Day Youth Event, held at the IWLA clubhouse and property. Some of the activities involved with this include archery skills, conservation, and habitat work, hunting safety, shotgun patterning, turkey calling, etc. This has to be a valuable learning experience for any kid. Most of the participants will remember the supervised hands-on shooting lesson for the rest of their lives. For more information about the activities of the Mountaineer Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, they can be found at www.iwla.org/mountaineer.
As I have said before, this is a civic organization that local sportsmen and women can be proud of for the work they are doing to preserve public hunting and fishing.