By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
After impressive and record-breaking participation over the past two years, the Hope Lions Club along with the Evening Lions have high hopes as this year’s 69th edition kicks off at Hope’s Fair Park Coliseum this Thursday night starting at 6 p.m.
Over the years, the storied local event has been touted as Hope’s version of Black Friday and Cyber Monday rolled into one with a plate of chicken and dumplings served on the side.
And per tradition, the affair will also extend into Friday night as well as Saturday night until all items are sold. The auction has a long standing tradition for the Hope Lions Club as their largest fundraiser of the year.
In 2017, the auction included a record 11 vacation packages as well as a 2008 Toyota and several gift certificates.
Over the past four years, items to be auctioned have also included big items like a Yeti cooler, a clothes dryer, a custom smoker and home furnishings as well as a wide array of household items, toys, and other items donated by local and area businesses.
In recent times, funds from the Lions Auction have been primarily dedicated to providing Christmas baskets to local needy families as well as other community projects.
In 2016’s opening night, Lions spokesman Mark Ross said an estimated 175 people attended with 111 bidders, and he said an estimated 973 donations were given to the event.
In 2017, Thursday’s opening night saw another big crowd estimated at 180, with bigger, near capacity crowds estimated at 300 the next two nights.
Along with the locally popular Chicken-and-Dumplings, a traditional sell-out dish, auction diners will see hamburgers, hot dogs, soups, chili, and chili dogs, along with a variety of homemade dessert choices.