‘A Night at the Races’ exceeds Rotary’s expectations

Juan Chavarria and Mary Berry high-five after a successful pick at Colusa Rotary's 'Night at the Races.'

Colusa Rotary’s annual “duck dinner” just keeps getting better.

Organizers were a little nervous leading up to the event this year, worried that numbers would be down because the Colusa Volunteer Firefighters’ Crab Feed was the same night, and also held at the Colusa County Fairgrounds. As the event drew closer, they realized their concerns were unfounded.

“We set up extra tables because we just kept selling tickets,” said Colusa Rotary treasurer Jim McGowan. “It looked to me like it was a prettty raucous crowd, and it looked full.”

Indeed it was: for the third consecutive year, the event drew a record crowd. According to McGowan, attendance was up 17 percent over last year’s record numbers as more than 165 tickets were sold for the dinner this year – the most in its 28-year history.

It’s good news for the community, as the money raised will go toward scholarships, community projects, and more.

The fundraising dinner has always been a popular event for Colusa County residents, but it has been gaining even greater popularity since its overhaul in 2016, when it actually became ‘A Night at the Races,’ during which dinner-goers bet scrip on pre-recorded horse races. Rather than just buying raffle tickets outright, patrons bet the fake money on a total of eight races. At the end of the night, the winnings were exchanged for raffle tickets, which were entered to win prizes ranging from guided fishing trips and duck hunts to a spa day for two. Rotary enlisted the help of local banks again this year, including the Colusa branch of Wells Fargo, which had employees volunteer to work the betting windows.

“It was our third year of this, so people seem to be getting the hang of the horse races,” McGowan said. “From Rotary’s perspective, we thought we had most successful duck dinner to date, and we hope to do as good or better in the future. Want to thank the community for coming out and supporting us.”■

Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.