After opening ceremonies at 6:00 p.m., including an invocation and a presentation of the American and Arkansas flags by Troop A of the Scouts, the 73rd annual Lions Club Christmas Auction began last night.
The Scouts who donned their full badge-laden uniforms and acted as color guard were Emma Wright and Mary Martinez. Wright said she had helped in the past with the event: “I like doing this type of stuff, community service. We do it every year, and it’s really a time for us to show off a little bit.” Martinez said she had been tempted at times to make a bid, “but once it gets the two zeros behind it, I’m done.”
From the stage, a series of auctioneers sold items donated by regional businesses and individuals in the Fair Park Coliseum. A lively display of several of these was placed from left to right in front of the audience, so as to tempt bidders, while various Lions members, most often Jack Griffin, described the items’ features and held them up to a camera so they could be seen on a screen to the audience’s right.
The auction got going with many smaller items, priced for less than $100. Among these were wall décor, gift cards, ankle socks, Jimmy Johns sandwiches, a smart grill, roll-on pain reliever, a John Deere nut shell cracker, a shampoo-conditioner and chi silk infusion, an 18-pound ham, a model 2021 Ford Bronco Badlands edition. Milko Smith, the chair of the auction committee for the Lions said halfway through that night one had drawn a good crowd. “Everything’s going smoothly,” he said.
Beth Lloyd, Garrett Christian Memorial School’s middle school history and keyboards teacher was there along with members of that school’s Leo Club, which was providing some help with the event. “They come to volunteer, and we’re learning about service hours and community service. There’ll be more of them here Friday night, and more Saturday night.”
Jerry Pruden, longtime Hempstead County Library Board Chair, was in attendance. “It’s small-town fun,” he said of the auction. “I came here as a child, always trying to find something to bid on. It’s just a lot of fun doing a lot of good.”
At about 8:30 p.m, several big ticket items were put up for bid. They will not be sold until Saturday night, but on Friday and Saturday night the high bid amount starts the next night’s bidding. Among these was a football signed by Razorback players from the decade of the 1960s, ten yards of SB2 gravel, bundles of metal reinforcement bars from New Millenium, a pair of Klipsch speakers, tax preparation from H&R Block, a Pit Boss Grill and bags of wood pellets from Danson, a grill produced at UAHT by that school’s welding students, an estate planning package by the Montgomery Law Firm.
One of the highlights of the big item bidding session took place when a jar of Dr. Don’s Famous Hempstead County Style Peanut Brittle was bid up to $175. It’s maker, Don Freel, said, “That does top the list. We had a couple of them go for $125 years ago, but this does top the list.”
The proceeds from the auction, which continues Friday and Saturday night starting at the same 6:00 p.m. time and running till about 10 p.m Friday night and until there is no more to auction Saturday night, will be used to fund many of the Hope Lion’s Club’s usual efforts, which, to read the donations form provided to SWARK.Today, includes “providing college scholarships; support for Boys State, Girls State, Scouting, and other youth programs;” as well as “help for the homeless; assistance to burn-out victims; eye-glasses and eye surgeries; hearing aids; diabetes awareness; life skills training to sight-impaired persons; equipment for eye-screening” and, finally, “food baskets for needy families.” These will be put together in mid-December.
The Lions will be trying to break their record haul last year of $38,035.50 and will have two more nights to do so. (I have been assured the auction’s cashiers take credit cards, by the way.) As the Lions chase their record, Evening Lions Club members will be selling a variety of delicious items. They are famous for their desserts but attendees can also order dinner items like barbecue sandwiches, chicken spaghetti along the southern part of the coliseum where tables are also provided for dining.