High Country Auxiliary Diner & Auction House
by Lisa L. Lopez
If you just happened to stop by the Gilpin Community Center on Saturday afternoon March 7 between the hours of 4:00 and 6:30 p.m., you found a horde of folks scurrying about, and numerous volunteers ready and waiting to check you in. Upon entering the gym, with the sight of tables lined up wall to wall, a quarter of them filled with generous silent auction donations from the public, you couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of community. They had tasty homemade red, green, veggie, and white chili to choose from, along with delicious cornbread, coleslaw, and cookies to top it off.
The High Country Auxiliary has been organizing these events for 20+ years. Wanda Sundquist, the most senior, and one of the current 45 members, said, “I wouldn’t be doing this unless I loved it.” Wanda has lived in the county since the mid-sixties, just shortly before the Auxiliary came into existence, and is also when she became a member.
The primary purpose of the Auxiliary is to provide assistance through funding to Timberline Fire District, the Gilpin County Animal Rescue Team, better known as GCART, and other emergency services such as Gilpin Ambulance, and first responders. For example, they donated $10,000 to purchase much needed bullet-proof vests for the Gilpin Sheriff’s Office. They also grant financial aid and scholarships, and help with other fundraising events within the county. Meetings are held bi-monthly on the fourth Tuesday of every other month at the Gilpin Library at 7:00 pm.
Three long rows of tables lined up running the width of the gym were completely covered with hundreds of auction items, many quite unique. All goods were donated by the public which the Auxiliary had been collecting since October. Three members assembled a total of 42 gift baskets. Each one beautifully arranged and compiled by theme including books, toys, pet supplies, snack foods, wine, coffee, and a myriad of others. The countless remaining items ranged from necessities such as a skill saw, first aid kit, space heater, and cutting board, to fun things like jewelry, a vintage china doll, framed pictures, a lovely handmade quilt made by member Carol Mirarck, and loads of gift certificates from local eateries and businesses.
Long-time residents of the county, Leonard and Rhonda Horowitz-Romano, shared a little story about the first time they attended the dinner and auction. They eagerly placed a bid for $35 on a small stunning Navajo blanket. To Rhonda’s surprise, when she went to check on it before the auction was over, not one other person had bid on it. Thrilled beyond words to receive such a beautiful item for a bargain price, when they returned home with it Rhonda said, “I almost felt guilty for getting it!” Since then, they have never missed the auction and always try to donate an item that they feel will bring in a good bid, along with giving generously to the Timberline Fire District.
A few big ticket items were left out for the live auction at the end of the evening. Sheriff Kevin Armstrong played the part of auctioneer. Though he insisted he wasn’t one, he did quite well with the gig! Laughs and cheers were heard as the Sheriff stayed steady on his feet and moved quickly between the bidders.
First off was a fanciable stained glass floor lamp with a wood-like iron base. Back and forth they went and finally settled on the highest bid of $250.
A large tool kit with a $300 value brought $160. A table lamp, very similar to the floor lamp, caused a bit of a ruckus ending in a couple of persistent bidders bringing the bid to a whopping $400! Last but not least, was a custom handmade fly fishing rod crafted by Larry Nimrod. The 9 foot rod was red with stripes along the pole
and the Timberline Fire District emblem at the end. A very special and one of a kind entry that brought $375, and also included fly fishing lessons. Can’t beat that!
A spectacular turnout with nearly 300 folks taking part, along with plenty of volunteers from various county agencies, helped make the night a success for all.