Combine a Mardi Gras theme with a Chinese auction, throw in a prime rib dinner and dancing, and what do you have? “It’s a party,” said John Gaustad in describing the Weed Chamber’s Chinese Auction held Saturday night at the Sons of Italy Hall.  “Mardi Gras is a great theme,” said co-auctioneer Cindy Summers, KCWH-FM radio talk show host.  “It puts everybody in a party mood. We have a great crowd.  This year everybody’s having fun.”  

The auction format went back to the way it was years ago, explained Chamber President John Diehm.  “Previously, with the bid packages, the audience wasn’t engaged,” Diehm said. This year, participants brought coins in plastic bags, cans, pill bottles, and coin rolls and spread them out on the tables.  As each auction package was introduced, those wishing to bid on that item dropped the appropriate amount of change in a decorated can on the table.  A ticket was drawn and the owner of the winning number would claim their items only if they had deposited their bid in the can.  “The auction, I think, is wonderful. It’s a lot better than a silent auction or live auction,” said Summers. “This keeps it a simple, fun evening.”

With over 50 auction packages worth over $8000 in donated items, co-auctioneers Summers and College of the Siskiyous President Randy Lawrence, dressed in Mardi Gras hats, had their work cut out for them.  For the 19th auction package, Lawrence modeled the Dewait Tool Belt donated by Weed Building Supply saying, “For 50 cents you could look like me!”  Two hours into it, the comedy and energy of Summers and Lawrence still had the crowd laughing and enjoying themselves.  

Jason and Shelly Aquila said the auction is great.  They have been coming six or seven years in a row.  “Never won anything, but it’s fun,” they said, before they won the 23rd auction package.  The Aquila’s won a beautiful lazy susan donated by Kegg’s Kreations along with honey from Mowat Apiaries, a $10 gift certificate to any Siskiyou Development convenience Store donated by STEP, and Pepsi product from Pepsi-Mount Shasta all for a bid of .25 cents.

In addition to the Chinese auction, Denis Hagarty organized an Irish auction for two desserts.  His first dessert was a German chocolate cake made by Ronda Gubetta.  “We’ve got an Irish auction at a Chinese auction for a German dessert made by an Italian girl,” he said.  Using a stack of cards, participants would guess if the next card drawn would be red or black by raising their right hand for red or their left for black.  Losers would sit down, and the winners would guess again, eventually getting to the final winner.  

The final auction package, donated every year by Bob Davis/House of Davis, was one week in a condo in Hawaii.  Nearly everyone deposited the $5.00 bid amount in the can for a chance to win. Winning this year was a surprised Jason Yoakum, who will be sharing the trip with his wife Gabby.  Jason said they went to Hawaii on their first anniversary and are excited to go back.

Smaller than last year’s attendance, John Diehm wasn’t discouraged.  “We’re happy with the turnout,” he said, adding that there were about 170 people attending.  Robert Menzies has been coming for 25 years and said he liked the amount of people this year because it wasn’t too crowded.

The smaller attendance didn’t hurt the 50/50 raffle; in fact, it was worth more money than last year said Stephanie Aquila.  A total of $1200 was split between the winner and the chamber.  

The $25 entry ticket included a prime rib dinner by Eric Slabaugh and Tom VonLohr from The Garden Party (the catering arm of the HiLo Café in Weed).  “It was a good dinner.  The food was great,” said Mike Ristuccia.  Ronda Gubetta said the Garden Party did a fantastic job.  Gaustad and Patc Dawson, echoing the popular opinion at the event, described the dinner as “excellent.”   

Ristuccia along with Kim Greene, Damon Zeller and Howard Gubetta worked the no-host bar throughout the evening.  Following the auction, Juan Sanchez from JS Productions provided DJ music for dancing.

John Diehm would like to thank all the businesses that donated prizes for the event.  Money raised is used to keep the Weed Chamber of Commerce office open and for other programs.  “Our business community is extremely generous to our Chinese Auction,” said Linda Carlin.