Wild Game Expo headed to Chambers County
Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, October 2, 2019
LaFAYETTE — The Chambers County Outdoor and Wild Game Expo on Saturday will include rattlesnakes, turkey, deer and fish on the menu at the Chambers County Agricultural Arena.
When it started, the Expo would see 300-400 visitors. That number climbed to over 800 last year, and this year’s crowd might be bigger than that. This year’s expo is expected to be larger because of the popularity of its main speaker, David Ellis, a well-known turkey hunter on social media.
Online he’s known as Yawt-Yawt. He’s from Mississippi but hunts throughout the southeast, and speaks at events for outdoor enthusiasts, often talking about his faith.
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When Ellis posted that he was going to be in Lafayette, the Expo’s website got 60,000 new hits. That may or may not translate into foot traffic, but reinforcements are being brought in just in case.
For example, wild game served at the event has always been free and will remain free of charge this year, but in case there is not enough, two food trucks will be on hand, serving non-game meals for a charge.
“There will still be lots of free food,” said Harold Harmon, one of the organizers. “We want to let people taste wild game.”
Harmon has been part of the Expo since it began.
“It was started by men in the church who loved to hunt and fish, who were outdoorsmen,” he said. “During hunting season, we saw people coming into the area and had an urge to offer something as a way to reach people who have an outdoor interest.”
Besides food, there are speakers and music throughout the day. Vendors come out to display and sell everything from turkey calls to rods and reels. Prize drawings are held throughout the event.
Most prizes come from vendors, whether in attendance or not, and some come from people in the church. Gift cards, fishing gear and bird calls are among previous prizes.
The grand prize this year is a Browning Silver Field 20 gauge gun with a 28-inch barrel. It’s a gun specifically for turkey hunting, the passion of guest speaker Ellis. Organizer Harold Harmon said a turkey gun should be “camouflage, have a good pattern, with a heavy load of shell and not a long barrel.”
Another feature is the Big Buck Contest. Hunters can bring their deer antler racks from the last year to be scored by Steve Lucas of Buckmasters.
“He’s been doing it every year for us. Everybody that brings a deer has heard of Steve Lucas,” Harmon said. “He’s good at doing this.”
Lucas measures all the points of the antlers for a total score, and the biggest score wins a prize.
Music will be performed by The Ryan John Band, a group that came out of Lafayette Heights. They’ve performed at youth events all over the area.
“They are young people who love the Lord,” Harmon said.
The day will be split up into music, speakers and live drawings. One speaker is Chambers County Game Warden John Davidson, who will give updates on new hunting regulations.
Vendors will also get a chance to speak for 10-15 minutes and show their latest products, like lures or turkey calls. One of this year’s vendors makes owl calls and will be demonstrating them. “We appreciate our vendors and want to give them an opportunity to display what they bring,” Harmon said.
Families are encouraged to bring their kids, as vendors will often have something for them, and kids (sometimes) enjoy sampling wild game. Davidson often has small bows for kids to try shooting with a bow and arrow.
The day ends with the Grand Prize Giveaway, the turkey gun.
“It’s always a good time and every year, we’ve had great weather,” Harmon said. “Once we had a little rain, not enough to disrupt us too bad.”
He said they schedule the event for October because of the good weather, and visitors from other states can know when to plan to visit each year.
People are still the main focus of the day. Lafayette Heights has always partnered with other churches, not just to help with the event, but to serve people after Expo is over.
“We made it clear to all the churches involved that we are not doing this to build up our church,” Harmon said.
The event collects registration cards from visitors and asks if they have a church, and if they would like a visit from a church. If they are, someone from an Expo church in their area will follow up.
The Expo is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT at the Chambers County Agricultural Center at Alabama Highway 431 North in LaFayette. Admission is free.