By Rob Potter
ROSCOE On Sunday afternoon at the Rockland House in Roscoe, The Sullivan County Long Beards chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) celebrated their accomplishments and presented awards to local people, businesses and organizations at their annual banquet.
As he welcomed the 185 attendees, Long Beards Treasurer and Events Chairman Hank D’Auria introduced a special guest in attendance, Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff.
D’Auria also spoke of the awards and accolades the Long Beards received during 2011 including trophies for “Best JAKES event of 2011” and “Most adult members in New York State” which were presented to the Long Beards by the New York State NWTF Chapter’s Board of Directors.
At the state event, the Long Beards received a framed plaque for completion of the prestigious “5 Star Award Program” for which specific criteria must be met, one of which is keeping families involved in the outdoors.
In addition, Long Beards Secretary Fran D’Auria received the “New York State 2011 Outstanding Member of the Year” award for her years of dedication and service to the NWTF.
The “New York State XTREME JAKE of the Year Award” was presented for the first time ever at the state banquet. This is a newly implemented program in which young adults have the opportunity to submit an application for consideration to their New York State NWTF Chapter Presidents. The recipient of the very first “NYS XTREME JAKE of the Year” award was Ethan Morgan, a member of the Sullivan County Long Beards JAKES program and a complete outdoorsman. (JAKES stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship).
The Long Beards also earned an award for having the best Youth Day event among all NWTF chapters across the nation.
Following Hank D’Auria at the podium was Linda Cellini, a representative of New York State Senator John Bonacic. Cellini presented special awards to the Long Beards and Morgan for all of their accomplishments during the past year.
Following a prime rib dinner, it was the Long Beards’ turn to present some plaques and scholarship awards.
As they do every year at the banquet, the Long Beards recognized two local high school students who have an interest in the outdoors by presenting them with scholarships. Liberty Central School senior Kody Viele received the first place $1,000 scholarship check, while Fallsburg Central School senior Corey McKeon received the second place $500 scholarship check.
On behalf of their fellow Long Beards, Hank and Fran D’Auria then presented several “Continuous Support” awards to local businesses and organizations for helping the Long Beards hold so many events and programs for adults and kids during the year. The “Continuous Support” award winners included: Catskill Pheasantry; Dan Millis Logging; Fur, Fin and Feather Sport Shop; Landscape Trailers; M&M Auto Group; New York State Corrections Officers of Sullivan Correctional; Quik Type; Robert Green Truck Division; Rolling V Bus Corporation; Roscoe Fire Department; Schmidt’s Wholesalers; Sullivan County Friends of the NRA and TK Taxidermy.
Long Beards President Earl “Butch” Kortright noted how important it is that the Long Beards receive support from local individuals, businesses and organizations.
“Thank all of you for being here today and supporting us,” he said. “Without your support, we couldn’t offer all of the great programs and events that we do.”
While the annual banquet provides an opportunity for the Long Beards to honor special people and businesses with awards, it is also a fundraising event with proceeds going to the NWTF. A percentage of that total is then returned to the Long Beards to assist the group in conducting its annual events.
Several drawings and raffles also help the cause. One of the most popular drawings was a gun from the “Wall of Guns.”
Banquet guests also had the chance to participate in a silent auction and a live auction. The live auction featured dozens of items, including specially crafted knives, paintings of outdoor scenes and a turkey weather vane.
Tim Robinson, a retired professional auctioneer who lives in the hamlet of Franklin in Delaware County, conducted the live auction. He spent 42 years working as an auctioneer, often alongside his father Pete Robinson.
Since he retired, however, Tim Robinson only does auctions for donations. One of his upcoming auctions will be at the banquet held by the Delaware County chapter of the NWTF.
At the end of Sunday’s banquet, Hank D’Auria expressed appreciation from all of the Long Beards.
“Thank you for coming to today’s banquet,” he said. “I think it was a wonderful banquet. It was a fundraiser and a chance for friends to get together and have a good time.”
FOR THE BEARDS
What: Sullivan County Long Beards Annual Awards Banquet
Where: Rockland House in Roscoe
New York State Awards: Best JAKES Event; Most Adult Members; Ethan Morgan (Extreme JAKES recipient)
Scholarships awarded: $1,000 - Kody Viele (Liberty); $500 - Corey McKeon (Fallsburg)