10 Great Reasons to Go, Things to See and Activities to Do at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic
By Tom Carpenter, Editor at Pheasants Forever
When National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic invades Illinois (and specifically Chicagoland) February 22 - 24 2019 at the Schaumburg Convention Center, there are sure to be plenty of first-time attendees.
That’s at least partly by design. The Land of Lincoln is a stronghold of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters and members; having the show in their home state for the first time is going to be a site to see … and the place to be.
But what’s Pheasant Fest, presented this year by conservation partner Federal Ammunition, all about anyway? What are some of the recommended highlights and surefire top attractions for the habitat conservationist, upland hunter, dog person, or wildlife and nature lover?
Ge a full show rundown here
. But better yet, and before you do that, take a look this cherry-picked top-10 rundown of reasons to go, things to see and activities to do. Get your tickets here
, or at the door, and we’ll see you there!
Whether you own a thousand acres or a city street boulevard, you can make a difference for butterflies (especially monarchs but also other species such as swallowtails, red admirals and painted ladies) and bees. Visit the Pollinator Pavilion and Stage on Level 2 of the convention center and get in on all the techniques and secrets. Sponsored by Ameren Transmission and Illinois Farm Bureau, two organizations working hard to restore pollinator habitat that also serves as upland gamebird habitat.
FREE HABITAT PLAN
Visit the Habitat Help Desk near the Habitat Stage for a FREE wildlife habitat plan for your acres. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever wildlife biologists will be on hand to help you get the foundation of a plan nailed down, whether you have 1 acre or 1,000. All you need to be able to do is locate your property on a digital map; then you and your personal wildlife habitat consultant are off to the races.
BIRD DOG STAGE
Traditionally one of the show floor’s most popular areas, the Bird Dog Stage promises a full queue of seminars and sessions to help every bird dog lover improve his or her canine’s performance. Speakers include trainer-author Tom Dokken, SportDog’s Josh Miller, Pheasant Fest stalwarts Rick and Ronnie Smith, and veterinarian Dustin Babler from Woodstco, Illinois, and Purina's Karl Gunzer and Bob West. Find a full rundown of Bird Dog Stage events here
WILD GAME COOKING STAGE
It’s hard to say if the Bird Dog Stage beats out the Wild Game Cooking Stage or vice versa for popularity, but each always gets a devoted following. Here’s just a start of the wild game delights you can discover at this year’s show: Chicago-Style Stove-Top Pheasant Pizza; Mexican Quail Stew; Upland Gamebird Slider Burgers; Pheasant Roulade; and more. The lineup of entertaining chefs includes Hank Shaw and John Hennesy, and talented newcomers Rachel Hogan and Lukas Leaf. Find a full rundown of Wild Game Cooking Stage events here
LIFE MEMBERSHIP … WITH CHANCE TO WIN A BENELLI
Every year, many current members make the Life Member commitment at Pheasant Fest. Why? It’s a dang fun place to do it! Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever employees and life members themselves are there to help you sign up. You can try on a Life Member jacket for size. And ONLY at Pheasant Fest: Folks who sign up for a Life Membership go into a 1-in-10 drawing for a Benelli Montefeltro 12-gauge shotgun. Every time the life member roll gets to 10 new members added, there’s a drawing and the winner announced!
“YOU WIN, YOU CHOOSE” GUN RAFFLE
Visit Booths 519 and 618 on Rooster Row for a chance to win a rifle, shotgun or handgun of your choice! Tickets are only $20 each, proceeds go directly into upland habitat, and a winner is chosen after every 50 tickets are sold.
THE SHOW FLOOR ITSELF
It’s hard to describe the mood at Pheasant Fest. Happy. Relaxed. Old friends. New friends. Smiles. Stories. You just feel at home. Every attendee needs to just set aside at least a couple hours to wander the show floor and see what you find … and find out who you’ll meet. Every year, friends are made, hunts traded or booked, dogs contacts made, hunting spots found, and information shared.
BIRD DOG ROW
One of the most popular areas of the show is always “Bird Dog Row,” an entire area of the show floor devoted to bird dog breeders, breed clubs, and hunting dog organizations. Hint: There will be bird dogs, and there will likely be some puppies trundling about this area of the show.
Rudy’s Youth Village is where kids are king! Youth represent tomorrow’s conservation leaders. That’s why half the show’s second floor is filled with activities for families and children. There will be laser shooting, activities and crafts, a fishing simulator, cooking for families seminars, dog training seminars for kids (tip: dogs will be here!), wildlife and hunting presentations, an airsoft rifle range and more. This area is staffed by PF’s and QF’s youngest stars -- our National Youth Leadership Council members. Find the Youth Village seminar schedule here
BIRD DOG PARADE
It’s the show’s very first event, but perennially one of its most popular. At 11:00 a.m. Friday, the ribbon cutting for the show takes place and over 40 bird dog breeds parade through (with their masters of course) to kick everything off. It’s truly a sight to behold … and to warm every heart in the house.