Each year the "Sportsmen's Night" committee proudly selects a deserving local individual to be its Man of the Year.
Chosen for his or her work in promoting the great outdoors through his unselfish work and contributions, this year's honoree at Tuesday's gala will be Valley Gun Shop second generation owner Ken Quarnberg.
After the passing of his late father, Maylon, Ken, active in the shop for more than 35 years, has continued keeping the family-owned gun shop running at top speed for more than 13 years. Valley Gun Shop, opened in 1963, has become a local hub, attracting a large following of gun owners, gun buyers and other outdoorsmen to the popular Chester Avenue locale.
"Growing up in the business, I've tried to continue my Dad's legacy, plus I enjoy the people I deal with on a daily basis," Quarnberg said. "I love a firm handshake and a friendly face, and most of my clients are also my friends. I also love guns, firearms and shooting; the mechanics of each fascinates me."
When asked about the political implications of being a gun shop owner, Quarnberg offered: "I would tend to agree that anti-gun politicians are our best salesmen. Since firearms businesses are usually politically driven, gun-fearing politicians almost always get the opposite effect from what they intend."
Married to Susan for more than 22 years, the couple has three grown children: Sarah, Paul and Molly. Ken remains active in many civic organizations and associations such as the National Rifle Association, Safari Club, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk, Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club, Cal Waterfowl and Tulare Basin Wetlands.
When asked what person most influenced his life, Ken responded, "My dad. His opinion and guidance always mattered to me. I'd like to thank him because he always instilled in me a love of firearms, a keen sense of fairness, right and wrong. I'd also like to thank Susan for the many years of love and support she has given me, plus all the employees who provide top quality service to my clients. And especially, I'd like to thank the dedicated clients we've had over the years who have always supported Valley Gun Shop."
This year's 61st annual Sportsmen's Night, honoring not only Quarnberg but all the rest of Kern County's outdoor enthusiasts, will be at the Kern County Fairgrounds. A $30 donation covers the cost of a barbecue steak dinner, huge raffle and evening of great fun for families and friends. Women and children are invited, with more than 100 prizes each valued at over $100 split between children under the age of 16 and adults.
After 500-600 planted birds were taken during a recent pheasant hunt northwest of Bakersfield, I've been deluged with requests for a really good, easy pheasant recipe. My Mother taught me how to do this way back when there were lots of wild birds around the valley, and it also works on chicken, turkey, rabbit, quail or any other white meat critter:
Anita Merlo's pheasant in sour cream and rosemary
Two pheasants (cut into serving pieces);
1 16-oz. Sour Cream
1 medium onion
5 cloves of garlic--chopped
A handful of fresh rosemary
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cube real butter
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
Â¼ cup white wine or cranberry juice
1 cup flour
Melt butter with olive oil and lightly saute onions, Italian seasoning, garlic and rosemary together. Strain and set the sauteed mixture aside for later, saving the now seasoned oil. Dredge the pheasant pieces in flour seasoned with salt and pepper then brown in the seasoned oil. Drain and put browned pieces in a deep casserole dish. Return sauteed ingredients to the pan. De-glaze with the wine or juice, stirring in the sour cream until the mixture just bubbles. Pour over pheasants, cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove cover and lower the heat to 325 degrees, cooking for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over noodles, rice or pasta and enjoy!