The 24th-annual Ducks Unlimited banquet was well-received Friday night, drawing a packed house to La Place Rendez-Vous and raising some money for a good cause.
The big story of the night was the resignation of Barney Maher, who was chairing his last banquet for DU.
He explained it was his time to step away from the spotlight “because I’m not going to do it anymore,” drawing laughter.
The live auction was the highlight of the evening—thanks to a spirited, charitable crowd who were all too willing to start bidding wars over items like prints, paintings, and sculptures celebrating wetland habitats, as well as firearms, furniture, sports memorabilia, and others.
The last item of the live auction fetched the largest bid.
While early bidding was slow for the replica Don Cherry jacket (a framed, signed plaid red number complete with a plaque and Boston Bruins’ hockey puck), it eventually went for $975.
Other big items included a Stoeger M2000 Camo Autoloader Shotgun, which went for $930, a large oil painting titled “Morning Retreat” which fetched $810, and a popcorn machine which sparked a fierce bidding war before selling for a lofty $450.
Also notable was a framed, signed Darryl Sittler Toronto Maple Leafs’ jersey, which drew an impressive $500 opening bid before being sold for $680.
Away from the live auction, there was the double decker raffle, containing a large blue kayak, various electronics, and a number of gift certificates.
There also were several special raffles, including the “metre of meat” raffle from M&M Meat Shops and the goose band draw for a garden cart filled with “refreshments,” as well as 49 different items available in the silent auction.
The latter largely was filled with framed artwork but dominated by a grandfather clock that later sold for $440.
The banquet attracted some attendees from quite a distance.
“I like the auctions and everything else,” said Cecil McLean, who comes from Calgary every year for the event. As he put down a bid for a piece of artwork, he admitted he’s yet to take any prizes home.
“I’ll see what happens when the bidding comes,” he laughed.
Also traveling some distance was Aaron Everingham, from the Ducks Unlimited regional office in Kingston, who was proud to tell the packed house that organizational restructuring brought his office to the event.
“We’re back in Ontario hands and it’s a pleasure to be up here,” Everingham said.
The night closed with Maher addressing the crowd.
Greeted with a standing ovation, he humbly shone the attention back on fundraising, telling the crowd to note a metal tray by the exit and to “drop your spare change in it.”
“The ducks need it,” he said.