Aquaturf in Plantsville facing backlash for hosting NRA fundraiser

PLANTSVILLE —  There’s controversy surrounding a popular local venue who hosted an NRA fundraiser Friday night.

The Connecticut chapter of the “Friends of the NRA” held a fundraiser at the Aquaturf in Plantsville.

The tickets were listed at $65 a piece. The event featured gun auctions and raffles.

Since word got out about the event, some gun control advocates have been calling for schools to not hold their proms or other events at the venue.

FOX61 reached out to the Aquaturf General Manager Tim Needham who released the following statement:

We’ve been doing this NRA dinner for over 20 years, but up until 36 hours ago, no one paid attention to it or cared, nor did they ever say they found it offensive. They did not intentionally plan to hold the dinner before tomorrow’s March for our Lives events. If I wasn’t working this weekend, I’d be there to show support. We have a good reputation, good food and service and we are always giving back to the community – in fact, the Calvanese family raised over $60,000 in the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook. We’re not untouched by what happened there.

These are business functions – they aren’t political to us; we don’t discriminate. It’s not our business to do so. It bothers me that, after 45 years of working here to create a business, as successful and giving as it is, to take the abuse we’ve seen over the last few days. We’re getting calls from schools that want to cancel their proms – the same schools we’ve donated thousands of dollars to and sponsored events for. They now suddenly feel they can’t be associated with us, which is sad. We can’t judge whether to hold event based on whether or not we share the same views.

We’ve known the people who come to this dinner for many years. Like all of our other annual functions, we reach a point where we know them not as NRA members but Bob, Mary and Joe; they become regular people that we’ve done business with them for many years. The folks who attend this event enjoy their pastime and are honest human beings.

The last 36 hours have been an absolute nightmare. It’s not only hurting our business, but also our employees. We had 50 staff members preparing for this function today, and another 130 working tonight to put this function on. I have an obligation to provide my staff with their livelihoods. It’s a shame that people decided to pick on this particular issue; they shouldn’t reflect their anger towards us, it should instead be directed at the government and politicians who have the power to change the laws. We don’t have the power – they do, and they aren’t willing to do a thing about it.