By the Tuesday of the week of the 67th annual Back Mountain Memorial Library Auction, the auction grounds were covered with lawn chairs, as volunteers set out their folding chairs and a crowd of auction-goers quickly did the same.
Gina Major posted on Facebook “It’s already a record. Tuesday night and 12 rows of chairs set up from the neighborhood.”
The security guard had all he could do to politely discourage auction fans from swamping the area on Tuesday night, said auction chairman George Finch.
Opening night brought in a cold front which made it comfortable for the audience and a new food vendor, Anthracite Café from Wilkes-Barre, fed the crowds. Thursday is designated Family Night.
It also is “Let’s see who’s in town night,” said Barbara Lemmond.
Noticeably absent from her usual painting perch was Sue Hand, who was sick with a fever from a tick bite that hospitalized her until Sunday. Her students Mike Hiscox, Kayla Wanek and Maggie Fannick stepped in to paint for her.
Hand’s painting typically brings in $4,000 to $10,000, yet the students’ painting brought in $2,650 over the block in live bidding and, perhaps more, as it was announced that limited prints would be available for $50 each after the auction.
“I’m so proud of them. They did it without me this year,” gushed Hand about her students after the bidding.
Overall and despite rain showers on Friday night, the unofficial consensus was that auction proceeds would about equal last year.
In past years the auction’s net profit (after deducting expenses) has been anywhere from $40,000 to $72,000 (in 1997).
The Saturday morning children’s auction did well, said James Hughes from Boy Scout Troop 281, which runs the event. “We got rid of the majority of the stuff. There were plenty of baby toys, skateboards, Nerf guns were popular as were inch worm toys,” Hughes said.
Jim Snyder, a long-time volunteer, said Friday might was an “umbrella auction” and, though the bidding enthusiasm was dampened, very few people left; they just put up their umbrellas, sat and waited for the showers to stop.
A homemade peach pie by Skip Sensbach in a thrown pottery bowl went for $100.
Newcomers to the auction made multiple trips back and forth to their cars, commenting they never knew there were such great bargains at the auction.
The library named the auction barn for Ernie Ashbridge, a tribute to the long-time auction volunteer, library and community friend who died earlier this year.
The shuttle from Dallas Shopping Center was most always filled and Finch said Emmanuel Bus Service told him they’d never seen it so busy.
The raffle booths did fabulously with boxes stuffed nearly every night, according to John Stubeda and Terry Eckert, the new goods chairperson, said Saturday night sales were wonderful.
Sunday might brought a gleeful, cheering crowd to watch Hand’s students sell their paintings and there were “no complaints” about the 67t Annual Back Mountain Library Auction, Finch said.