Men and boys gathered by the hundreds at Conway Towne Centre on Friday night for the third - and largest - Beast Feast of Second Baptist Church.
The attractions were eating and a variety show of outdoor and hunting themed segments. Everyone received a Bible. And the bottom lines were old friends met, swapped hunting tales, and youngsters listened in awe and eagerly got up close with trophy deer mounts, duck calls and live fish.
A Bigmouth Buffalo fish swims idly by as hunters and outdoor enthusiast alike sample the surroundings at the Fourth Annual Beast Feast at the Conway Towne Center. Ticket holders enjoyed booths advertising hunting lodges, duck calls and other outdoor related goods. ANTHONY REYES PHOTO
The event had 1,640 in attendance, chairman Marty Sykes said. So efficient was the crew of volunteers from the church that it took just 24 minutes for everyone to get his food. A host of sponsors helped with door prizes, and the proceeds will be used for work of the church's Men's Ministry.
Even the Lone Ranger got into the act. Sykes said this was the 71st anniversary of the first Lone Ranger television program in 1933, and an energetic imitator delighted young, middle aged and old-timers who recalled the long-running radio show.
Michigan hunting guide and outfitter Skipper Bettis, well over 6 feet tall and fully looking the part of a hunting legend, was a highlight of the program.
Interspersed with the duck-calling demonstrations, the Lone Ranger and other features were lumberjack competitions. Area resident Tim Tyler tried his hand with a chain saw against a couple of fellows with a hand-powered crosscut saw, and the man-powered saw easily won in cutting through a 14-inch log.
Later, two of the lumberjacks put souped-up chain saws into play, whizzing through three slices of the logs in about five seconds.
Matt Richardson, the Conway High School student who amazed everyone with an intermediate world duck calling championship at Stuttgart in 2002, made hunting music for the crowd. Richardson won his world title after less than three months of competition.
Also well received were much younger callers - the Lucas boys from Hensley. Nathan, 8, Paul, 6, and Josh, 4, can do better on duck calls than most veteran adult hunters. Their dad, Rock, kept busy with scrimshaw work in decorating calls for anyone.
Camo was the dress of the evening. Suits and ties were as scarce as ducks in the just-ended Arkansas season. Dignitaries were sprinkled through the crowd - Conway Mayor Tab Townsell, Sen. Gilbert Baker and University of Central Arkansas President Lu Hardin, to name a few.