Auction Is Hometown Tradition, Seashore-Style

Gather at the Barnegat Light Firehouse to Benefit Fire Company
May 09, 2018

Anyone who has been to the Barnegat Light Volunteer Fire Co. Ladies Auxiliary Auction knows why it is an attraction beyond bidding on great items. The date this year is Saturday, May 26, at the firehouse on West 10th Street.

The Memorial Day weekend tradition, open to all, brings out residents and vacationers for hours of lively bidding on nautical gifts, art, sports memorabilia, restaurant gift certificates and much more.

But touches of the commercial fishing hometown make it unique – like the spread of hors d’oeuvres and desserts home made by the ladies auxiliary. Each of about 40 members of the active auxiliary is bringing five dozen servings of specialties, some of them from the auxiliary cookbook.

The humor of veteran auctioneers Ron Chaffee and Bill Meck add an entertaining flair as, all the while, the amount raised for the fire company climbs higher. The auction raises more than $20,000 annually.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the auction starts at 6:30 p.m. A $10 donation at the door includes the hors d’oeuvres.

“They’re delicious. A lot of people come just to eat,” commented Auxiliary President Marie Stone. “Where else are you going to get all those hors d’oeuvres for 10 bucks?”

The fire company members run a cash bar that raises additional proceeds for the company.

“It’s our 36th auction – it’s a fun night, and all the money we raise goes to our volunteer fire company,” Stone said. “Those funds are used to purchase various firefighting equipment and for the maintenance on that equipment.”

Local businesses donate very nice items, which auxiliary members are collecting as the auction approaches. Other treasures are made by local artists and artisans. In recent years there have been exquisite handmade quilts that take hours to sew, and raised hundreds of dollars each.

“One of the highlights this year is that Joy Luedtke is donating a quilt that she bought a few years ago at the auction, back to the ladies auxiliary so that we can auction it again,” Stone said.

As just one more big attraction, a bidder can own a commemorative football from Super Bowl LI, last year’s triumph for the Eagles. Stone’s brother donated the football.

“Mrs. Weeks’ Chocolate Cake” made from the original recipe spans the decades to become another interesting prize.

Stone and Chaffee said the cake was the highlight of the first auction when it brought the highest price that evening, about $400. A bunch of the commercial fishermen banded together to bid. Then they cut the prize cake into their own shares. That’s the kind of cameraderie that has made this auction such a spirited event for a good cause.

“We accept cash, checks and credit cards,” Stone mentioned. A new system initiated last year streamlined the credit card process.

Conveniently, tickets can be purchased at the door of the firehouse at Central Avenue and West 10th Street.

Townspeople will see each other there, and for others, it’s an interactive glimpse into a modern yet traditional commercial fishing community. —M.S.

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