TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Fairgrounds lit up with laughter and music as family and friends supported the Goshen Rooster Boosters at what turned out to be its largest annual banquet and auction ever.
The Rooster Boosters celebrated its 25th year of supporting Goshen County youth this year. From scholarships to lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, the Rooster Booster helps youth in whatever way it can.
This year’s banquet took place Saturday, Nov. 6 at the Goshen County Fairgrounds and featured a dinner of baked beans, ham, mashed potatoes, a dinner roll and chips. Before volunteers served dinner, the smell wafted out of the kitchen and to the guests who wandered around with their kids and grabbed drinks from the bar Torrington’s own Mint Bar had set up. Tickets were available for sale for $30 for singles and $50 for couples. Kids under the age of 12 received free admission.
Kids grabbed their parents’ hands and tugged them towards the room set up with a bean bag toss and other games with prizes for the kids who won. Parents and grandparents visited with each other over their drinks. One woman laughed at a joke her husband told before searching through her wallet for money for the auction.
Bidding for the silent auction closed at 7:30 p.m. and featured various knives, smokers and a DeWalt chainsaw along with home decor such as lamps, a light-up sign that read “Cowboys” and various paintings, including a few from Bud Watson.
The goal of the Goshen County Rooster Boosters is “to benefit the youth in our community,” organization secretary Gail Babbitt said. “This is kind of their banquet, and [Rooster Boosters President Jasen Kaufman] makes sure it’s their banquet.”
Kaufman agrees his favorite part of his work with the organization is the kids. As bidding closed for the auction, Kaufman led a raffle for the kids. Prizes included fishing rods, toy horses and BB guns.
“Is that the first thing you ever won?” Kaufman asked as he handed a BB gun to a young boy.
“Yup.” the boy exclaimed.
Some kids couldn’t be understood as they yelled their names into the microphone, too excited after winning their prizes.
“Giving the guns out and looking at their, you know, the smile in their eyes and getting to talk to them,” Kaufman said with a smile.
Goshen County Rooster Boosters originally began as a part of Pheasants Forever, a nonprofit conservation group dedicated to preserving land and wildlife across 40 states and parts of Canada. In 1996, a small group with $500 broke off from the larger organization and formed a more localized effort in Yoder to protect public access and provide education for young hunters.
Since then, the Rooster Boosters have given countless donations to dozens of local organizations. From 2020-2021, Rooster Boosters donated a total of $44,937.90 to various groups and causes such as Eastern Wyoming College Golf, Special Olympics, Wyoming Game and Fish, the Torrington Volunteer Fire Department and Torrington Little League.
Five Eastern Wyoming College students received scholarships from the Rooster Boosters. Jenna Kaufman won the Dave Neider Scholarship and Hunter Howe won the Tom Lowry Scholarship, both totaling $1,000. Bailey Woster, Bailey Powell and Gage Correa all received scholarships for $500.
As of the writing of this article, volunteers had yet to determine the final count for total funds raised at the banquet.
Kaufman and the rest of Goshen County Rooster Boosters would like to thank all those who volunteered at Saturday’s event. After not being able to hold a banquet and fundraiser last year due to COVID restrictions and safety concerns, Kaufman said it was “good” to have such a large turnout for the auction.
“I just want to thank everybody,” Kaufman said. “You have 20 in the kitchen, you know, probably 30 just at different spots…We had most of the scholarship winners selling raffle tickets and showing artwork off and just a big thanks to everybody that donated and everyone showing up.”