For many, the Lobster Feed & Charity Auction hosted by the Lake Oswego Rotary Club and Lakewood Center for the Arts, which is set for this Saturday, June 16, beginning at 5:00 p.m. at the Lakewood Center for the Arts, signals the unofficial kickoff to summer. The tent it is held in gives way to the Festival of the Arts which is followed by the Fourth of July festivities all around town. Then we are off and running!
So why do so many set their seasonal calendar by the Lobster Feed & Charity Auction? It could have something to do with these 10 surprising facts.
1. It is one of the 10 largest single night fundraising events for any Rotary club in North America and the largest this side of the Mississippi. “That’s really something,” explains Rotarian Peter Jurney, “because we’re not that large of a club compared to downtown Portland, for example, which is four times our size.”
2. Six hundred live lobster are flown in from Maine the night before and cooked onsite.
3. It takes place under a large circus-style tent—none of those stuffy hotel conference rooms for this group!
4. Variety is the spice of life…and the spice of auctions—this year there is everything from a G-shot injection to a trip to South Africa.
5. The first auction was held in the gymnasium of the Lakewood School (which now houses the Lakewood Theatre).
6. The numbers don’t lie: 600 people attend; More than 200 people donate; Over 400 items are donated; 3 is the number of silent auctions in addition to one super silent auction, and the oral auction. Net revenues each year total over $150,000.
7. They cast a wide net with the funds they raise. This year’s beneficiaries include: Lakewood Center for the Arts, Clackamas Women’s Shelter, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates),HappyTrailsRidingCenter, Oswego Meals Network, and the Oswego Heritage House. No matter your cause, chances are they are helping to fund it.
8. Proceeds from the first Rotary Club auction were earmarked towards the $20,000 pledge the club had made to purchase the Lakewood School (the current home of the Lakewood Center for the Arts) from the Lake Oswego School District. Since previous fund raising activities had never earned more than $5,000, the club anticipated it would take three years to reach their goal. They raised the entire $20,000 the night of their first auction.
9. For the first two auctions, the Rotary Club flew in not just the lobsters from Maine, but the caterer to cook them as well. Then Rotarians Bill Gerber and Warren Oliver persuaded the club to save the $10,000 catering fee and let them take on the task of cooking the lobster themselves. After a couple years of trial-and-error, the tradition of Rotarian lobster chefs lives on.
10. The transition from lobster feed to arts festival is a smooth one. As Rotarians and Lakewood Center volunteers finish up their event around 10:00 p.m. auction night, festival volunteers follow, setting the stage for the next big event in Lake Oswego’s summer lineup.
Have any Rotary auction trivia you’d like to share? We’d like to hear it! Leave your comments here.
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