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Annual auction supports Amish community school

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ST. IGNATIUS – Rain clouds opened up for a few minutes during the Amish community’s annual auction, held on Saturday, making a pile of watermelons glisten before they were sold to the highest bidders.

“The rain is great; it hasn’t run anyone off,” said Leroy Miller, one of the event volunteers.

The auction was held in a field in front of the one-room schoolhouse on Foothill Road where children from the Amish community attend. Miller said the auction brings in about $30,000 on average to support the school.

Twenty-four children attended the school during the last school year. Children attend the school from first to eighth grade. The kids are currently on summer break from school, so volunteers in the community take the time to hold the auction. Funds are used for school supplies such as books and pencils as well as to purchase the wood used to heat the building. Two teachers are also on the payroll.

During the last school year, auction proceeds were used to install a public water system. “We had to put in a new well using state regulations because the building is used as a school, church and community center,” he said. Miller added that the project created a “huge cost” for the school, which is funding by the auction and community contributions.

Jeremy Miller was volunteering at the homemade ice cream and pie stand, taking a few dollars in exchange for different flavors. He attended the school almost a decade ago and said he remembers that the main subjects of study were math, English and history. “Math was one of the big ones,” he said. He added that children in the Amish community ride their bikes to school during the weekday and attend class from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Three different auctions were going during the all-day fundraising auction. Hundreds of people were seated under a large tent to see about 120 quilts as they were hung up on a display line, two at a time, while auctioneers called on bidders. The quilts are made by people in the Amish community from all over the United States, including a few locally made designs. In the afternoon hours when the auction was halfway through, one quilt brought in the day’s highest bid at $1,000.

“We have lots of beautiful quilts again this year, grand masterpieces,” said volunteer Brenda Beachy as she looked for the next quilt to be put on display. She also agreed that the rainy weather was an asset. “It hasn’t been too hot so far this year,” she said. “It’s been a good day for an auction. We are very glad for our quilt buyers and all the people who came out today.”

Under another tent adjacent to the quilt auction, furniture of all kinds went up on the auction block. There were things like carved bears, rocking chairs, bed frames and dressers. Outside the tent, across the field, and past the small buildings waiting to be auctioned, another group of auctioneers were taking bids on hundreds of items, including tools, tractors, antique boxes and two piles each containing about 30 watermelons.

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