On March 22, 2008 the Arizona Elk Society held our 7th annual banquet and the results were incredible. The banquet was held at the Mesa Convention Center. We had a little trepidation about moving such a large affair to a new venue but we soon knew we had made the right decision.
The additional square footage allowed for more comfort at the tables and was very helpful in showcasing all of the banquet items. The banquet was sold out weeks in advance and the total number of attendees was around 800. Everyone came for a fun-filled night; they opened their pocketbooks and set a new record net amount of over $525,000 that will be well spent on wildlife habitat and projects in Arizona.
Matched by funds from other wildlife organizations and agencies, this money will fund projects and programs whose value will total up to $2.5 million dollars. This past February, Utah set a record with an elk tag which auctioned for $158,000. That record stood for only a month! At the banquet, we topped it by selling the Arizona Commissioners Elk Tag for a whopping $195,000! We not only regained the record, we set the bar very high. The Commission antelope tag was also auctioned and that tag sold for $62,500. The money raised by the sale of the antelope tag will be used for improving antelope habitat.
One of the highlights of the evening was the sale of a mule that had been trained and donated by Ronnie McKay of Mule Barn Farms of Yuma. This one year old mule was paraded onto the banquet floor; she was handled, petted and touched by many of the attendees. Ronnie had her bow to the crowd, sat under her belly and picked up her hind legs, all to the delight of the crowd. Incredibly, she was calm throughout the entire bidding process, even when the roar went up as she sold for $8,500.