Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Step Up for the Way Life Should Be

The tiny town of Newry, Maine, has a population of about 330, but for one weekend –the second weekend in October 2014 in this case– its population explodes to several thousand. And that’s exactly where 33 members and volunteers of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation found themselves.

They traveled to the Pine Tree State from as close as nearby Connecticut and as far away as Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina and Wyoming. They enjoyed the beauty of New England’s fantastic fall foliage and soaked in the festival atmosphere as they gathered for Step Up for the Way Life Should Be, an RMEF fundraising event and reunion of sorts.

RMEF Co-founder Charlie Decker and wife Yvonne hosted the three-day gathering. Participants took part in a wide range of activities including a Chondola (combination of chair lift and gondola) ride on Thursday to the Sunday River Ski Resort’s Peak Lodge for a welcome reception. 

On Friday, the group rode in a motor coach to Old Port in Portland for a tour of the Cabot Farmer’s Annex. The stop included some private cheese-tasting. From there, it was off to a lobster bait shop for a private tour followed by a cruise that featured lighthouses on Casco Bay. The day culminated with a return trip to Sunday River for a traditional lobster bake.

Saturday morning brought with it a meeting to reminisce, share heartfelt feelings, express gratitude and learn from each other. Group members talked about what fuels their passion for wildlife, conservation and the RMEF. 

“It was really great to hear everyone’s stories. They are very committed and passionate about the Elk Foundation,” said Geri Pursley, RMEF major gifts service lead. “Most of the group members serve as volunteers on the local chapter level. Several of them stepped up to either become an RMEF Life Member, a Habitat Partner or they increased their commitment within the Habitat Partner level.” 

Following the meeting everyone had free time, but for most folks it was time to join the throngs on hand to check out the 15th annual North American Wife Carrying Championships, the highlight of the Fall Festival weekend. 

Husband-and-wife teams, with the husbands doing the carrying and wives hanging on for dear life, raced through a 278-yard obstacle course that included log hurdles, sand traps and the “widow maker” water hazard. The fastest two teams from the qualifying round then competed head-to-head with the winning couple taking home the wife’s weight in beer, five times her weight in cash and an automatic entry into the Wife Carrying World Championship scheduled for the following summer in Finland. Watch the video below to view the 2014 winners—Jesse Wall and Christina Arsenault of Maine.


For the record, Wall and Arsenault won 96.5 pounds of beer and a cash prize of $482.50. Arsoneault said they did so well because she’s “wicked small” and he’s “wicked strong.”

To the winners, go the spoils  (Photo via Associated Press)

The Elk Foundation contingent capped their memorable weekend together by gathering one last time for a farewell dinner on Saturday evening. 

“It was such a fun event! I really admire all the folks who attended this event because of their commitment to RMEF,” added Pursley.


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