Folks Flock to 2018 Pheasant Fest

079247d9-6880-483f-b7d7-f23dd86580dc MeatEater TV host Steven Rinella greeted fans and friends Saturday afternoon at Pheasant Fest 2018 in Sioux Falls.

Pheasant Fest 2018 in Sioux Falls is in the books for almost 29,000 happy attendees

Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s 2018 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, presented by Federal Premium Ammunition, drew 28,868 attendees to the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, over three days from February 16 to 18, making it one of the largest events in the organization’s history.

For 2019, the Schaumburg Convention Center in the greater Chicagoland area will be the site of National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic on February 22, 23, & 24, marking the first time Illinois hosts the country’s signature upland event.

“Upland conservation and the traditions of pheasant hunting have deep roots in South Dakota, and the passion of its residents was evident throughout a spectacular weekend,” stated Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever. “The city of Sioux Falls and the state of South Dakota hosted what will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the top National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic conventions since the show’s debut in 2003. Thank you to all of our partners, sponsors, and community leaders, we look forward to a return visit to ‘The Pheasant Capital’ and the continued support of habitat conservation efforts in the state of South Dakota.”

The annual Bird Dog Parade kicked off Pheasant Fest 2018 in Sioux Falls. With 1,500 on hand Saturday night for the largest Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever banquet in the conservation organization’s history, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard issued his support for an expansion of the nation’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to 40-million acres to help rebuild upland wildlife habitat in the Midwest, including 1.5 million acres in South Dakota.

This followed a video message from Senator John Thune, who reissued his call for the CRP cap to be at least 30 million acres (Thune is also in favor of restructuring CRP so more acres of land are allocated to pheasant country). This show of habitat support from leaders in “The Pheasant Capital” of South Dakota is especially timely as federal lawmakers begin serious construction of the 2018 Farm Bill, of which the CRP is part.

With South Dakota celebrating the kickoff of its “Pheasantennial” - 100 years of pheasant tradition in the state - Governor Daugaard also took part in the Precision Ag Workshop. Along with the Community-Based Habitat & Access Summit, this pair of special events within National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic showcased the unique and evolving ways in which Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever is working to create habitat, conserve wildlife and keep upland hunting traditions alive.

Hunting traditions, history, public lands, and conservation advocacy were themes touched on during the keynote address by Steven Rinella to Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever members Saturday night. The MeatEater podcast and television host lived up to his reputation as the preeminent hunting and conservation communicator alive today.

Saturday night's banquet was Pheasants Forever's biggest ever. In addition to providing significant economic impact for the host city and attending outdoor industry vendors, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever uses its National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic to recruit members for its habitat conservation mission. A total of 1,680 individuals signed up as Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever members, including 1,139 associate members, 465 youth members and 76 elite level memberships. 

The event also delivered wildlife habitat benefits specific to Midwest farmers and ranchers. The Landowner Habitat Help Room at the show serviced 185 landowners to provide conservation guidance on 47,157 acres of land. Accompanied by a trained Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever biologist, landowners were educated on ways they can improve their acres for wildlife and even what local, state, and federal conservation programs they qualify for enrollment.

National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic combines a national consumer show, wildlife habitat seminar series, and family event complete with puppies, tractors, shotguns, and wildlife art. In fact, Pheasant Fest is the country’s largest event for upland hunters, sport dog owners, and wildlife habitat conservationists.

Mark your calendar for February 22, 23 and 24 for National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2019 in Schaumburg, Illinois. Additional details will be released soon.