Thursday, November 16, 2006
Celebrity Hunt raises funds for charities
By SUE WATSON
The third annual Celebrity Hunt at Galena Plantation was a big success this year with proceeds going to Gov. Haley Barbour’s Katrina Relief Fund, Ames Plantation and the Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction, Tenn.
Participants this year included Gov. Haley Barbour and First Lady Marsha and Barbour’s chief of staff Charlie Williams; Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. John Wilder and his chief of staff Russell Humphreys; country music singer Tanya Davis and her mother Frances Davis; Wayne Musselwhite of Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and singer Sonny Jackson.
Key sponsors of this year’s hunt were First Tennessee Bank, Trustmark Bank, FedEx, Fayette County Bank, Memphis Consumer Credit/Equifax, the State of Mississippi and Tennessee, J.L. Hollowell, and Dan Grafton of Vertex Aerospace.
Fitch Farms/Galena Plantation is composed of 7,000 acres of woodlands, pasture lands and croplands rich with wildlife including deer, turkey, quail, fox, coyote, rabbit, squirrel, and a few wolves, said owner W.O. Fitch. The land is home to Texas Longhorn, buffalo and Beefmaster cattle, and ranch horses and mules.
The property can accommodate up to 25 house guests in six houses located on the property.
Two field trials are held at the plantation each year as qualifying trials for the National Bird Dog Foundation and National Championship Field Trials held annually at Ames Plantation in Tennessee.
Galena Plantation is a growing enterprise hosting a number of commercial hunts and providing space for corporate celebrations and civic functions.
Recent events held at the plantation included a sit-down dinner for 40 college presidents from over Mississippi, a corporate dinner for a loan company, numerous fundraising events and the setting for the World War II Fighter Pilots Association meeting.
The Fitchs are called upon to provide wild game suppers and wagon rides.
Key to the attraction is the wide and open landscapes, quiet, attractive lodge, and Southern cuisine prepared and served as guests arrive.
Fitch said he began buying up the land at Galena Plantation in 1975 before he envisioned the properties’ future use.
“It was just cheap and I just paid $100, $200, $300 an acre,” he said. “The last land tract I bought, I paid $10,000 an acre. I wouldn’t have bought those two but I needed it to fill in.”
Fitch said members of prominent hunting groups often visit each other as a form of reciprocity. He has booked some hunting groups from South Africa and some from England.
“We’re getting probably some notoriety we don’t need,” he said, with a low chuckle.
The long-range planning to guarantee the plantation is passed on to the next generations to come has been quietly underway for several years, Fitch said.
“We’ve got seven grandkids to give it to,” he said.
Haley and Marsha Barbour supported the first celebrity hunt but were unable to attend last year due to business with Hurricane Katrina.
Gov. Barbour said he supports the hunt because so many Mississippians enjoy the outdoors and hunting and fishing.
“We’re blessed in Mississippi with a fabulous environment and habitat,” he said. “We come up here every chance we get.”
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