Although the Greene Countrie Towne Festival was postponed in 2020 due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greenfield Rotary Club maintained that it would still have a benefit auction later in the year. That event now is scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17 at the Ralph W. Phillips Community Recreation and Civic Center.
The auction has been a mainstay of Rotary’s budget since 1987 when the club took over sponsorship of the community festival. However, the format will be modified due to concerns about the virus.
“While the auction is important to the club and a fun activity for the community, it will have a different look this year as we make the proceedings available online,” said Greenfield Rotary Club President Ron Coffey. “If possible, we will try to allow for people to visit the auction site with appropriate social distancing in place.”
Details are still being worked out, but the plan approved by the Greenfield Rotary Club calls for the auction to take place at the Rec Center, located at 156 Jefferson St. in Greenfield.
The auction will feature 10 limited edition prints by local artist Tammy Wells featuring a street scene from Greenfield’s past. The prints have been popular down through the years, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of revenue that has helped Rotary to benefit the community in many ways. In addition to operating the Phillips Rec Center, the club supports the Highland County Society for Children and Adults, donates dictionaries and thesauruses to children in the Greenfield Exempted Village School District, sponsors an annual Four Way Test speaking contest, and financially supports other good causes within the community.
The Greenfield Rotary Club also sponsors the Greene Countrie Towne Festival, and looks forward to its return in July 2021 when it is hoped COVID-19 will be a distant memory, according to Coffey.
“For the Sept. 17 auction we will be working with auctioneer Gary Binegar and want to determine the best way to offer the auction online so that bidders can safely take part in the auction,” Coffey said. “Andrew Surritt is our resident ‘tech person’ and has posted events on Facebook Live, which is one of the platforms we are considering for the auction.”
Whatever format is used, viewers should be able to watch online and it is hoped they will be able to place bids via email, phone calls or texts.
“In addition to the limited edition prints, we hope to have other donated items to sell, much like we have done at the festival auctions all these years,” Coffey said. “Anyone wishing to donate new items such as sports memorabilia, event tickets, bicycles, leaf blowers, tablets, etc. can do so by emailing us via the Rotary website at www.greenfieldrotary.org or by leaving me a message at 937-981-7328,” Coffey said. “We will be happy to pick up the donated items and store them prior to the auction.”
The Rotary club also hopes to display the auction items at the Rec Center with silent auction bid sheets affixed so that visitors can come in and take a look during the auction. However, any in-person bidding will only be permitted if it can be done with appropriate social distancing. Coffey noted that things could change based on the severity of the coronavirus outbreak as the Sept. 17 date draws closer.
“We hope to allow people to visit the site in person, but will defer to our state and local health authorities. At this point, we plan to move forward with an online auction even if the in-person aspect is cancelled for any reason,” Coffey said.
The online auction process will allow viewers to have a look at the merchandise, and allow the auctioneer to explain how bids can be submitted. It is hoped bids can be placed via computer, texting or phone calls.
“The auction helps Rotary raise money for worthwhile projects and gives the community a chance to take part as donors or buyers,” Coffey said. “On Sept. 17, we hope to have some interesting items to sell and to provide some entertainment for the people of Greenfield and area.”