What's better than becoming one with nature?
Well, being able to experience the great outdoors from the great indoors, is pretty nice. And nursing a cold brewski while doing it definitely can't hurt.
That's part of the enduring appeal of the 14th annual Nature Calls, a fundraising event for the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center's conservation and educational programming.
This year's event will take place from 6 - 10 p.m. Saturday at the Sioux City Convention Center, 801 Fourth St.
"People tell me that they look forward to Nature Calls every year," Dawn Snyder, the nature center's education program director, said. "They love the relaxed atmosphere of the event."
Among the things that attendees can do is view and purchase artwork from 11 area artists and nature-themed vendors.
"We have artists who make furniture, fuse glass, design jewelry and create wonderful pieces of pottery," Snyder said. "There's literally something for every taste."
The same might be said for the eclectic items that will be up for bid at the Nature Calls auction.
"We have Kansas City Chiefs versus the Buffalo bills football tickets, original art piece and, even, an authentic jacket from Sioux City's original Fourth Street Brewing Company," Snyder said.
However, the most unique auction item is the one-week stay and fly-in fishing trip to Ontario, Canada's Ara Lake Camp.
"The cool thing about the fishing trip is that you have to fly into Canada and, then, you take another flight to get to this secluded fishing camp," Snyder said. "It seems very exciting."
Hunters might be intrigued by the Kimber Micro 9 two-tone 9mm handgun or the Mossberg .243 caliber Patriot Rifle that are being raffled off.
"The gun raffles will benefit our summer youth programs," Snyder said.
OK, we've gone this far without talking about craft beer, which has always been a big hit at any Nature Calls event.
"Guests can sample more than 40 different brews and craft beers including Oktoberfests, IPAs, ciders and lagers," Snyder explained. "We'll also have some wonderful wines to sample plenty of complimentary non-alcoholic beverages."
Is there a particular beer that has captured Snyder's imagination?
"Well, I've never been much of an IPA person but I have an open mind when it comes to Oktoberfest beers," she admitted. "Also, I'll be intrigued by any beer that has some pumpkin spice in it."
"Maybe it's because fall is just around the corner but I have to have my pumpkin fix," Snyder continued. "Might as well get it in a beer."
Even though Nature Calls has been around for a while, the event is still time consuming for Snyder and her staff.
"We literally have to close the nature center the day of the event and the day before," she said. "There are so many last-minute details we have to contend with."
Still, Nature Calls draws a spotlight on such special projects like the nature center's indoor exhibits, the Raptor House and the very popular Discovery Forest Nature Playscape.
"Some fundraisers are stuffy but our fundraiser is anything but stuffy," Snyder said. "This is an evening where people can see interesting art, drink some unusual beers and hang out with friends."