Minneapolis, Minn. – Feb. 16, 2020 – Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic presented by Federal Ammunition drew a record-breaking crowd of 32,467 attendees to the Minneapolis Convention Center over the weekend. At the nation’s largest gathering of upland wildlife conservationists, new attractions including the Public Lands Pavilion and Path to the Uplands Stage, along with the organization’s inaugural Upland Film Festival provided modern and creative ways for engaging hunter conservationists.
“Dedicated members and upland hunters from all corners of America joined us in our Minnesota home,” said Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever President and CEO. “The passion for the uplands was palpable across the show floor over our three-day weekend. We couldn’t be more appreciative or motivated to continue the organization’s wildlife habitat conservation mission with the momentum gained from this year’s National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic.”
National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic combines a national consumer show, wildlife habitat seminar series, and family event complete with puppies, tractors, shotguns, and wildlife art. The following themes from the weekend stood out for members, chapters and attendees:
- Advocacy Efforts: Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever issued a formal letter to the United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue during the show’s opening bell to request an extension of the current general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup. The current CRP signup is the first of its kind since 2016 and has the opportunity to enroll as many as 8 million acres of the country’s most environmentally sensitive lands into America’s most successful conservation program, providing a much needed boost for landowners, wildlife, and rural agricultural communities. Additionally, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Pheasants Forever life member, attended a special breakfast for life members on Saturday, while U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith attended a women’s luncheon on Saturday afternoon.
- Keynote Public Lands Address: Randy Newberg, one of the nation’s most prolific public lands advocates and a native Minnesotan, was the keynote speaker at the Saturday evening National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic banquet. Host of the popular Hunt Talk Radio podcast as well as Fresh Tracks and On Your Own Adventures TV shows, Newberg’s speech about the connection of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s important conservation work for America’s public lands base received a standing ovation from 1,200 Saturday night banquet attendees.
- Public Lands Pavilion: The inaugural year for the show’s newest stage and exhibitor area celebrating the country’s 800 million acres of prairies, forests, mountains, and public lands open to all Americans for hunting, hiking, and exploring generated a lot of buzz from attendees. Special guests included Land Tawney of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Minnesota DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, Minnesota State Representative Jamie Becker-Finn, Sam Soholt and the Public Lands Bus, Ben Jones of the Ruffed Grouse Society and Whit Fosburgh of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. As part of the Public Lands Pavilion, ten exhibitors are donating 10% of their weekend proceeds back to Pheasants Forever toward the creation of a new public wildlife area.
- Member Support: In addition to providing significant economic impact for the host city and attending outdoor industry vendors, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever uses its National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic to recruit members for its habitat conservation mission. A total of more than 1,400 individuals signed up as Pheasants Forever (1,329) or Quail Forever (72) members, including 145 elite-level or higher lifetime memberships.
- Habitat Work: The event also delivered on-the-ground wildlife habitat benefits specific to Midwest farmers and ranchers. The Landowner Habitat Help Desk, in partnership with federal and states agencies, hosted 159 landowners to provide conservation guidance on 18,372 acres of land. Accompanied by a Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever biologist, landowners were educated on ways to improve their acres for wildlife, water, soil and even what local, state, and federal conservation programs they qualify for enrollment.
Looking ahead, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever announced on Saturday night that the organization’s signature event will now travel to the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on February 19-21, 2021 for the second time in organizational history. Details for the organization’s 2021 National Pheasant & Quail Classic presented by Federal Ammunition will be released soon at www.PheasantFest.Org.