On Saturday, February 3, the Pawling Fire Department (PFD) held the 21st annual Sportsman’s Night. The sold-out fundraiser saw the community turn out in droves for an elaborate game dinner, with proceeds going toward the purchase of equipment, training, and the department’s daily operations. Sportsman’s Night serves as the PFD’s largest annual fundraiser, and officials were pleased that 2018 was once again a rousing success.
Held at PFD Station 1 on South Street, the event saw more than 700 guests attend the “all you can eat” game feast. The evening began with a cocktail hour and with hors d’oeuvres before the main course, which featured a banquet of venison, rabbit, duck, and pheasant. No meat for the event was purchased commercially, with all game being contributed either by department members or donations from the community. The department also raffled off a 2017 Polaris RZR 570 UTV with trailer, and over $10,000 in smokers, hunting supplies, and other prizes.
Preparation for Sportsman’s Night was an enormous undertaking, and members of the department began cooking preparations a week before. On the day of the event, work began at 7:00 a.m. to transform the fire station into a banquet hall. Members of the Ladies Auxiliary served the food at the event, and more than 100 volunteers helped to ensure the night’s festivities were successful. “We did very well,” said Chief Everett White. “We couldn't have done it without the Ladies Auxiliary and all our volunteers and support staff. On behalf of the department, I want to thank all of the elected officials who showed up, everyone in the community, all the donors, and all the police, fire, EMS, and first responders who came out to support us. This was one of our most successful dinners ever.”
Sheriff Butch Anderson served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and special guests included Congressman John Faso, Senator Terrence Murphy, and County Legislator John Thomes. Also in attendance were Town Supervisor James Schmitt and Councilmen Phil DeRosa and Jim McCarthy. Senator Murphy addressed the crowd, saying: “This is fantastic. This just keeps growing and growing each year. We need to take this event and spread it around New York State. We need to spread this around the country.” Sportsman’s Night also took time to recognize the military veterans in attendance, as well as a moment of silence in remembrance of those who served, and those who continue to fight for our country.
The Pawling Fire Department Sportsman’s Night provided not only an abundance of excellent cuisine but also served to benefit an essential service in the community. Though the Pawling Fire District receives some town funding for the operation of their three fire stations, the PFD is predominantly funded through donations and fundraisers, primarily Sportsman’s Night and the annual Carnival in August. The department keeps the community safe, and the gratitude for that service was shown by the overwhelming amount of support that Sportsman’s Night 2018 received. “They’re here to lend a hand whenever we need it, so we try to do the same whenever they need help,” said volunteer Jodi Samela. She added: “This is like one big family.”