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Dinner raises close to $50,000



Conservation Dinner in 2018 raises close to $50,000 for projects in local communities 

Gala charitable auction has raised more than $1.1 million in net proceeds over 29 years; Dinner Committee looks forward to 30th gala auction in 2019

Close to three decades after the first Conservation Dinner in 1990, local people continue to show generous support for projects in local watershed communities through this charitable fundraising event. The 29th Conservation Dinner took place in Exeter on April 12, 2018. This year’s Dinner was another success, raising close to $50,000 in net proceeds for community projects, according to the Dinner Committee. “I was amazed at the level of cooperation and teamwork that goes with this event,” said Larry Taylor, Co-Chair of the Dinner Committee. “I was very impressed.”

Fellow Co-Chair Jim Beckett said this year’s Conservation Dinner was another full house and another success at supporting programs for local young people, families, and communities. “I applaud everyone involved in making the 2018 Conservation Dinner another success,” Beckett said. “From accessible trails and pedestrian bridges and parks to outdoor nature recreation and education, to student bursaries and job experiences for youth, the Conservation Dinner makes things better in our local communities for young people and people of all ages.”

The Conservation Dinner has raised more than $1.1 million in net proceeds over its 29-year history. The Dinner is a partnership of Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation and the Exeter Lions Club and the community. Net proceeds from the Dinner are split evenly between community conservation projects by the Lions Club and by the Foundation.

The Conservation Dinner is still going strong, after almost 30 years, because almost everyone is involved, according to the Co-Chairs. Community members are active in many ways – as donors, guests, and as volunteers. Local auctioneers Bob Heywood; Ben Lobb; Richard Lobb; and Kevin McArter have also been key contributors to the Dinner’s success, event organizers say. 

The Conservation Dinner Committee will soon be back at work planning the 30th Conservation Dinner in 2019. The Dinner Committee hopes by the end of next year to have surpassed the cumulative mark of $1.2 million raised for the community over the history of the charitable fundraising event. “I wish the Conservation Dinner Committee all the best as they plan for the 30th Conservation Dinner in 2019,” said Beckett. “Next year, I am confident this community will be able to surpass the mark of $1.2 million raised in the history of the Dinner.”

The 2018 gala featured live and silent auctions of art and distinctive items such as travel packages and sports and entertainment memorabilia. The event also included special raffles, general raffles, appetizers, wine tasting courtesy of Dark Horse Estate Winery Inc., fun; fellowship, and a wonderful ‘East Meets West’ meal by Thai Pad Catering of Lucan.

One of the popular live auction items for bidding in 2018 was a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey (#1) signed by the late, great Johnny Bower. Another live auction highlight was a VIA Rail Canada trip (Travel Voucher for Two from London to Halifax, Economy Class between London and Montreal, connecting to a Cabin for Two between Montreal and Halifax). Another of the one-of-a-kind live auction items at the Dinner was original art by Randy Jones, an artist who has returned home to the Exeter area after decades of success in New York. His piece was a whimsical rendering of the proposed pedestrian trail bridge on the  South Huron Trail to provide a safer, more scenic alternative so trail users don’t have to walk alongside vehicle traffic on Morrison Line to enjoy both sections of the South Huron Trail. The feature artwork is always a big attraction at the live auction and this year’s event was no exception. David Loerchner and D. L. Creations, Bayfield, was the 2018 feature artist. Like all creations by this craftsman, this piece was one of a kind – a live-edge, handcrafted Maple solid slab table.

These were just some of the one-of-a-kind pieces in the live auction – ranging from a quilted wall hanging to travel and sports experiences to wooden art and metal art. To find out about many of the other one-of-a-kind auction and raffle items, as well as the sponsors, you may download the evening’s programme online at

Photo: A partnership effort has supported conservation projects in local watershed communities for close to three decades through the Conservation Dinner gala charitable community fundraising auction. The 29th Conservation Dinner on April 12, 2018 raised close to $50,000 for local community projects such as nature education programs, accessible trails, parks and conservation areas, outdoor recreation opportunities for young people and families, job experience programs for youth, student bursaries, and more. Shown in photo, from left to right, are: Brian Horner, General Manager and Secretary-Treasurer of Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA); George Irvin, Vice Chairman, ABCA Board of Directors; Jim Beckett,  Co-Chair, Conservation Dinner Committee; David Loerchner, of D. L. Creations of Bayfield, feature artist; Bob Radtke, Chairman, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation; Larry Taylor, Co-Chair, Dinner Committee; and Dan Turkheim, President, Exeter Lions Club. The Dinner has raised more than $1.1 million in net proceeds over its 29-year history in support of projects in local communities.

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