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Quails Unlimited to flock to Screven in March

As many as 500 people from all over the country are expected to come to ScrevenCounty take part in a three-day sporting clays tournament this spring.

The Quails Unlimited tournament is scheduled for March 27-29 at the Savannah River Preserve, a 1,200-acre hunting preserve on Highway 24 near Newington.

Winning a bid for the annual tournament is a coup for the preserve, which opened in March 2008, and should be a great economic boon to the area especially during these tough economic times, said an owner of the preserve, Kay Powell.

“It’s going to be a pretty big deal,” she said. “It’s not just for this year. If it’s a success, we could end up hosting it three to five years or longer.”

An estimated 300 to 500 people will shoot in the tournament, and more than that will attend, spending money for travel, hotel stays, food and shopping.

Spring Hill Suites in Statesboro will be the host hotel for the event. It has a banquet room large enough to handle the entire crowd, Powell said. No hotel in ScrevenCounty has banquet facilities large enough, she said.

The Comfort Inn in Statesboro as well as the Sylvania Inn also will house people taking part in the tournament, she said.

Participants do not have to qualify to take part in the event. They also don’t have to be a member of the National Sporting Clays Association to take part; there’s a hunter class for non-members.

“Anybody locally can show up and shoot have the possibility of winning prizes,” Powell said. Prizes typically include such things as guns and shells, she said.

Area chambers of commerce will be putting together packages of information to give to attendees, telling them about restaurants, shopping, entertainment and other attractions such as local wineries. “They’ll shoot at certain times and then have free time,” Powell said. “In their spare time, they can see what ScrevenCounty has to offer.”

Quail Unlimited is a non-profit conservation organization “dedicated to the wise use and management of America's wild quail, doves, upland game birds and other forms of wildlife,” according to the group’s Web site.

The group usually has three national sporting clays tournaments annually, but this year, because of the troubled economy, it will have only two, said Craig Alderman, director of marketing and public relations for the group that’s based in Edgefield, S.C.

Most of the people expected to attend the tournament in March will drive one or two days to get here, he said.

Alderman said he doesn’t have estimates of how much money the tournament participants bring to an area, but it’s substantial. “It’s going to dramatically help,” area businesses, he said.