West End folks came to participate in the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction. Items are displayed in the staging area on shelves for viewing before the action in the auditorium. (Zorina Barker/for Peninsula Daily News)

West End folks came to participate in the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction. Items are displayed in the staging area on shelves for viewing before the action in the auditorium. (Zorina Barker/for Peninsula Daily News)

WEST END NEIGHBOR: West End comes out for annual Forks auction

SARAH DECKER TOOK command of the microphone Sunday afternoon at the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction in the Forks High School Commons.

Earlier in the weekend, she auctioned off $10,000 of goods in her hour-long shift and she intended to top that total in this shift.

The bidding was rolling along on several items and Decker noticed a bid for a photo of the old high school in a frame made of the old school gymnasium floorboards that she just couldn’t let slide.

“Five hundred fifty-one! Really? Is that how it’s going to be?” she said, heckling the top bidder.

A bid came right in for $600.

“See, man, that’s how you do it,” she teased.

Within minutes, the photo sold for $800.

Cheers erupted from the standing room-only crowd in the auditorium.

Saturday morning, the bidding began at 9 a.m. and rolled on for 12 straight hours.

Folks went home, took a sleep break and began bidding again at 10 a.m. Sunday to close at 22 hours of auctioning over two days.

Fruit and berry pies routinely sold for upwards of $100 each.

Gift certificates for a variety of goods and services worth $25 sold for more than their value.

Crafted wood toys and art from the inmates at Olympic Corrections Center fetched hundreds of dollars each.

“We’ve given away over $1 million since the auction’s inception,” said JoMarie Miller.

She is one of seven board members who direct the funds to the graduating class.

She explained that the Forks High School students each fill out an application for a portion of the money brought in by the auction.

The seniors are encouraged to fill out an application, even if they don’t have immediate plans to continue their schooling.

“We save it for them, so they don’t have to use it right away,” Miller said.

The 67 seniors of this year’s class worked at the auction, wearing identifying T-shirts of light blue with their names written on the back.

Teens did the work of moving the items through the auction process and displaying them to the audience, which worked well for smaller items such as egg rolls.

However, when the demolition derby car went up for auction, people had to have noticed it outside on a trailer.

Adults did the organizational work of cataloguing items, scheduling auctioneers, collecting money and arranging items for pickup.

The adults working at the auction are rarely the parents of seniors, as those parents are usually selling food at concession windows near the auction for the Senior Safe Night fund.

Some community members, such as Patty Holtz, have been involved for several decades.

When Holtz’s mom, Dorothy Gorham, passed away, Holtz took her place.

“It’s a generational thing,” she said.

Sunday evening, there was a moment of silence amid the commotion for Lonnie Foster.

According to Cheri Dahlgren, who has worked at the auction since 1980, Foster was a regular donor and bidder. He passed away last fall and his absence was felt by the regular crowd.

Much West End memorabilia changes hands at this event and each year has something unique.

This year, the Russ Thomas family donated the six murals that hung for decades in the windows of the old Pay ’n’ Save grocery store.

Even after the store closed around 15 years ago, Judy Stevens’ art hung in the windows until it was taken down last week for donating to the auction.

Stevens herself graduated from Forks High in 1966.

The murals sold for upwards of $1,000 each.

A week prior to the scholarship auction, the Olympic Peninsula Guides Association began an online auction that gave a $10,300 boost to the total.

Wilder Auto Center donated a 2004 PT Cruiser.

“They are always very generous,” Miller said.

Really, though, she could have been commenting on the motives behind the entire auction.

Monday morning, board member Jerry Leppell said the total raised this weekend was $141,550.

“It all goes right to the kids,” Miller said.

_________

Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.

Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorina [email protected], or call her at 360-327-3702. West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.

Her next column will be April 3.

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