Re: Mixer suggestions?
Does it need any digital connectivity? Do you need onboard effects? How many channels do you need?
As Bo mentioned, the Mackie VLZ-series is good stuff, and you should be able to find a 16-channel version within your price range.
Although it's a lot bigger and heavier than I would want to haul around, I picked up a '90s Ramsa WR-S4416S 16-channel/4-bus board for $300 from eBay. I use it in my home studio as the front end for my recording rig, and for PA duties during rehearsal sessions. I'm very pleased with it's sound quality.
Plastic buckets and trash can lids