CIRCLEVILLE - The Sportsman Extravaganza enjoyed what has been described as its best-ever fundraiser Saturday as a crowd of 3,500 mingled at the fairgrounds coliseum for food, fun and prizes.
“Everything went well for us,” said Mike Rittinger, president of the organization. “This year definitely was the best we’ve ever had. I don’t know how we will be able to top it.”
Rittinger all of the $50-per-person tickets were sold out two hours before the gates opened at noon Saturday.
“This is our first sell-out in the extravaganza’s five-year history,” he said. “The last 200 tickets were sold between 8 and 10 a.m. Saturday. Based on the phone calls we received Saturday and the number of walk-ups we had to turn away, we easily could have sold another 300 tickets. Maybe next year, people will start buying their tickets earlier.”
Money raised during the extravaganza goes into a fund that will pay for the construction of a 100-by-300-foot multipurpose building on the fairgrounds.
In the last four years, the extravaganza has accumulated more than $200,000 toward the $1 million goal, according to Bob Black, county fair board president and Sportsman Extravaganza treasurer.
Chris Welch was the grand-prize winner, and he selected the 2011 Harley-Davidson Touring Road King motorcycle as his prize, Rittinger announced.
Lowell Cleary’s ticket was drawn for the reserve grand prize, which is the winner’s choice of either a Polaris Ranger or 4x4 Wheeler. Cleary hadn’t notified the extravaganza of his decision by the time the event closed down Saturday night, said Rittinger.
The Westfall Athletic Boosters conducted this year’s tear-off numbers game sales, and Rittinger said both the extravaganza and the boosters made a significant sum by splitting the proceeds in half.
“We let organizations come to our extravaganza and sell those game tickets with the understanding they have to secure their own gaming license and share the money equally with us,” he explained. “It’s a popular part of our event each year.”
Carey Maddux of Clarksburg has been coming to the extravaganza since 2009 and said he enjoys what it has to offer.
“I get to see some people here that I haven’t chatted with for a long time,” he said. “I am a deer and pheasant hunter, and this event has a lot of nice prizes.”
Maddux said he was lucky enough to win one of the prizes during his first extravaganza two years ago.
Another returning extravaganza attendee, Kingston resident John Derexson, said he comes to the event because of his love for the sport.
“(The extravaganza) is a good time,” he said. “I hunt deer and pheasant, too. What I enjoy the most is seeing what guns they’re giving away. I won one last year, and hope to do so again today.”
Rittinger said the amount and quality of the prizes are what attracts people to the extravaganza each year.
“When you have good prizes, people will come out,” he said. “After five years, I think our organization’s figured out what it is we’re doing.”