The Jack O’Connor Hunting Heritage and Education Center will celebrate its 13th anniversary tonight and on Saturday extend for a second year its public forum of hunting and outdoor writers.

The center, essentially a museum that houses many of the late writer’s trophy big game animals, guns and writing memorabilia at Hells Gate State Park near Lewiston, will hold a fundraising banquet at the Red Lion Hotel this evening.

Jack O’Connor lived in Lewiston and wrote for Outdoor Life and other magazines. He also penned several books on hunting and shooting.

Tickets to the banquet, at which writer Wayne van Zwoll will be the keynote speaker, are $50 for individuals or $95 for couples.

On Saturday, the center will have an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that will include a display of custom, rare and collector firearms and feature a forum of outdoor writers, who will discuss a variety of topics related to hunting and firearms. The forum will start at 11 a.m.

The invited writers are John Barsness, a writer who also owns Deep Creek Press and Rifles & Recipes near Great Falls, Mont., Eldon “Buck” Buckner of Baker City, Ore., Mike Slack of Sisters, Ore., Terry Wieland of Fenton, Mo., and Mustafa Bilal of Anacortes, Wash. The forum will be moderated by Jeremy Nesset of Lewiston.

“These guys have been around, and they all have strong thoughts and feelings about the future of hunting, and I think it will be a fascinating discussion,” said Jack O’Connor Center board member Jerome Hansen of Lewiston.

At the banquet, van Zwoll will speak about his High Country Adventures of Women program. Each year, van Zwoll leads small groups of women on hunting safaris in Africa. Hansen said his talk will include highlights of the program and also touch on how hunting helps wildlife conservation.

The banquet starts at 6 p.m. and will include a buffet dinner. Hansen said money raised at the banquet will help support the center and its mission of educating people about hunting and O’Connor’s legacy.

“It’s a really neat thing for the Lewiston community, in terms of a place for people to come and visit,” Hansen said. “I think it just adds to the overall culture of the valley.”

Barker may be contacted at ebarker@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.

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