Dowagiac Conservation Club to host 25th annual Hunter’s Rendezvous

Published 9:06 am Tuesday, February 8, 2022

DOWAGIAC — An upcoming local event is set to celebrate a quarter century as a fixture in the community, and it does it all for the area youth.

The Dowagiac Conservation Club, 54551 M-51 N., Dowagiac, will host is 25th annual Hunter’s Rendezvous from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, with its sights set on raising money by selling $10 raffle tickets to promote outdoor recreation and nature conservation among local children.

Through a multitude of raffles that occur throughout the event, Hunter’s Rendezvous acts as the primary fundraiser for the club’s Youth Education Fund, which helps fund admission to summer camps, provides free hunting safety classes and brings nature and wildlife programs into local libraries and schools.

“The biggest thing we want is to help get kids outside and away from the electronics,” said Hunter’s Rendezvous co-chair Stephanie Lyons. “It doesn’t have to be someone who enjoys hunting and fishing, it could just be getting outside and walking.”

Last year, the Youth Education Fund brought Nelson’s Wildlife Safari — a traveling wild animal exhibit — to the Dowagiac District Library, and funded a visit from the Potawatomi Zoo to Kincheloe Elementary and a meet-and-greet with animals from the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids. The program also purchased more than 100 nature- and animal-related books to distribute to area Little Free Library locations.

“The kids that come are just so ecstatic and they cannot wait for us to do something else,” Lyons said. “We try to come up with new things so it’s not always the same, and we haven’t had any negative responses so far.”

The grand prize of the 5 p.m. raffle drawing is a fully stocked freezer of meat courtesy of Clear Water Meats in Eau Claire. Other prizes include a camouflage Ruger .350 rifle, fireproof gun safe, Blackstone griddle and camouflage recliner.

In addition to the main drawings, there will be free children’s raffles, a silent auction and 50/50 raffles. John Ball Zoo will be on hand from 2 to 4 p.m. with a few animals to show, and there will be an antique gun appraiser on-site from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

A bonfire with s’mores and refreshments will be available to enjoy, as will a trophy barn. Attendees who bring a display mount for the trophy barn by 2 p.m. will automatically be entered for a chance to win a gun.

“We try to keep the event moving so there’s something going on every half hour or so,” Lyons said. “After 25 years, it says that there’s a lot of people who support what we’re trying to do with our youth fund.”

Attendees of the Hunter’s Rendezvous can also register for Sunday’s annual Squirrel Hunt, which costs $40 per team and runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.