South Georgia's two largest hunting events will be held in Albany next week, the 27th annual Quail Unlimited Celebrity Conservation Hunt and the first AKC Southern Heritage Coon Hunt.
Organizers expect the hunts will have at least a one and a half million dollar impact on the area economy and continue to market South Georgia as a hunting destination. This year South Georgia lost one of the country's biggest coon hunts and came close to losing the celebrity quail hunt in recent years. Efforts to keep it going and bring a new coon hunt to town will mean our economy will continue to get an annual economic boost.
The economy and hard financial times nearly ended Quail Unlimited three years ago, but South Georgians took over the conservation organization to keep it going. Organizers think the 2013 QU Celebrity Hunt will show those troubled times are finally behind them.
Quail Unlimited President Bill Bowles said "Jim, this year's event overall is going to be better than it has ever been."
The Celebrity Hunt this year will host a golf tournament Thursday at Stonebridge. And expanded concerts with country music artists Andy Griggs, Keith Anderson, Josh Thompson, and Leah Seawright. Next Friday and Saturday 51 celebrities from sports, music, and Hollywood will quail hunt on 30 plantations is their biggest fund raiser of the year.
Bowles said "The quail conservation and habitat efforts we are able to do with the proceeds from this event, and our youth program that we are able to support from this event."
Meanwhile at the Exchange Club of Albany fairgrounds the first American Kennel Club Southern Heritage Hunt and Show will be held Friday and Saturday. This is the first year, because the long time UKC Winter Classic moved out of Albany after 25 years for Batesville Mississippi. But because of those long time relationships, organizers expect many coon hunters to return to Albany for this new event.
AKC Executive Field Representative Jim Phillips said "We've had a lot of response. As far away as Oregon. Tennessee, Carolinas, Florida. It's a little overwhelming that the major hunt moves to Mississippi and starting over and it looks really good."
Last year there were 700 dogs at the hunt. This year they expect 100. Much smaller, but the hunt is still expected to have a one half million dollar economic impact. And the proceeds from the hunt will all go to fighting child abuse in Albany.
And something new at the AKC Southern Heritage Hunt at the Exchange Club fairgrounds. Besides coon dogs , they will also be holding a chicken show at the same time. And that is expected to bring more visitors to Albany, and to grow in the future.
The Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt will hold its expanded music events at the Civic Center Friday and Saturday night, and the public is invited. Tickets are $20 per night, which is cheaper than most concerts.