PORTER | Despite a heated debate on hunting, in the end it boiled down to whether a fundraiser by the national group Hunt of a Lifetime would attract enough visitors to Porter County.
Porter County tourism board members didn't think so, voting 7-1 Wednesday to deny a $3,000 grant request by the group. Grant applications are weighed on several factors, including the event's ability to draw visitors from outside the county and a group's ability to host and promote an event.
Hunt of a Lifetime -- which provides hunting and fishing dream trips to children with life-threatening illnesses -- sought the money to market a fundraising concert planned for April 2 at Chesterton High School featuring local country music singer Nicole Jamrose.
The concert will go on despite the denial of the grant, said Garry Burch, northern Indiana co-ambassador for Hunt of a Lifetime.
"People from out of the area will be coming," Burch said.
Local residents attending the tourism board meeting voiced both opposition and support to the grant request.
Those opposed expressed a variety of concerns, including the dangers involved in hunting, and the belief it was done to "put a trophy on the wall" instead of provide food, which the group claims.
"It just seems ludicrous to me that a child who is dying would want to kill an animal," Chesterton resident Mary Ann Crayton said. "I cannot imagine how this can be a tourist draw."
Burch said recipients of the trips are from families in which hunting and fishing are an integral part of their lives.
He refuted charges by some members of the opposition the hunts were canned and unsafe.
"You have more chance drowning in your own bathtub than being involved in a hunting accident," Burch said.