Friday September 28, 2012

LEE -- Hot-air balloon rides, a Medieval village exhibit, and firearm and archery demonstrations highlight a centennial celebration for one of the Berkshire's oldest volunteer organizations devoted to sportsmen.

The Lee Sportsmen's Association (LSA) has planned an all-day event Saturday to mark its 100th anniversary. Activities run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the sportsmen's 50-acre facility on Fairview Street, followed by a dinner-dance in the clubhouse.

The 430-member LSA was founded Oct. 10, 1912, but didn't establish its permanent home on Fairview Street until the mid-1960s, according to the association.

While sportsmen's organizations are known for promoting hunting and fishing, President John Polastri cited how sportsmen's associations also advocate for preservation of wildlife habitats.

"Conservation goes all the way back to [President] Teddy Roosevelt, who created the national park system -- and he was one of the most famous hunters I know," he said.

LSA members say the 100-year-old organization has been know for its shooting and archery events, along with raising pheasants for local release during the hunting season.

For years, the LSA was also a mainstay of social activity in town after the main clubhouse was built in 1965, according longtime member Peter Scolforo.

"We had monthly dinner-dances, a big clam bake and steak roast in August.


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It was a fun place to be," Scolforo said.

In recent years, the LSA has become more involved in hunter safety, firearms and archery courses, along with skeet, target shooting and other traditional activities, according Polastri.

Andy Swanton has been working to increase interest in pistol shooting at the LSA.

"We're always looking for new shooters," said Swanton, who joined LSA nearly two years ago. "It's not a very physical sport. [It's] more about the mental aspect and having fun."

As with any volunteer organization this day in age, Polastri says maintaining an active membership and raising necessary funds to keep going isn't easy. Nevertheless, he's encouraged by the increase in women and young people -- some third generation members -- who have joined LSA.

"Since 1996, we've worked with a state program to get more women involved," he said. "We've also improved our youth programs."

Throughout the year, the club holds fundraisers, coupled with membership fees, to help pay for its programs and the upkeep of its property. Last year, the group spent $15,000 for a new roof on its nearly 50-year-old clubhouse, Polastri said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.


If you go ...

What: Lee Sportsmen's Association centennial celebration

When: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Fairview Street, Lee For more information and directions, visit www.leesportsmen.com