Small towns do a fund raising auction in a big way!

Saturday April 29, 2006, Bieber CA
Copyright 2006

Big Valley Family Resource Center (BVFRC) held it's fund raising Farm Auction today in Bieber at the site of Big Valley Power LLC. who graciously allowed use of it's land and facilities for this charitable event. This auction sold 290 items, which is not bad for an auction in a small town, and really great for a group of non-professionals who had never organized an auction before.

A wide panorama of the auction site

The lot was full!. Trailers at the left were for sale, not owned by visitors.

Preliminary figures are that sales of about $80,000 were made at the auction,. 10% of the proceeds go to the Big Valley Family Resource Center in Bieber to be used toward the construction of a child care center. 90% of the sales went to the seller. The figures are preliminary because workers conducting the event were too exhausted after the auction to come up with an accurate figure. This would be decided after a day of well deserved rest for all the volunteers.


Wyatt Harbert, one of the 2 auctioneers, on the truck sells another item.


The resource center (BVFRC), a non-profit organization supported by county funds and donations, supplies family oriented aid to Big Valley residents including child care. Daytime child care is presently being provided at the center's offices and is very limited due to space and lack of proper facilities. There is a great need for child care in the valley.  There are many children between infant age and 11 yeas old and only one licensed child care provider in the area. There are at least 30 children on a waiting list for chaild care at BVFRC. The resource center has already obtained some funding for a facility from county grants and community donations but more is needed to actually construct a building. Land has already been obtained from a grant by Lassen county located right behind the present office space on Highway 299.

The idea of a farm consignment auction as a fund raiser was hatched earlier this year. The deal was that items would be brought in on a consignment basis where 90% of the sale price would go to the seller and 10% go to BVFRC.

An auction date was originally planned for March 25. Newspaper and radio announcements for the sale were started well before. Papers a far as Klammath Falls announced the auction. Radio station KCNO in Alturas had daily announcements of the event. Big Valley News (this website) agreed to advertise and post an auction brochure on line which included pictures and descriptions of the items. Organizers of the auction, including Brian Dahle and his wife Megan volunteered to take photographs of sale items and to arrange for transportation to the auction site if the sellers were not able to do so themselves.

Response was very slim in the beginning, and not enough items were available to auction as the March 25 deadline was approaching.  This was blamed partially on the poor weather at the time. It was decided to postpone the auction to April 29 in hopes that it would be a success. More item commitments were made as the date grew closer and about a week before the date about 160 items appeared on the list and in the on line brochure. Getting better, but not yet great.

Suddenly, a few days before the auction, as items were being delivered to the site located on land owned by Big Valley Power Co., items started to pour in so fast that they could not be added to the list. So much for the worry about not a big enough sale, but now new worries. How do you keep track of all the new stuff and how do you tag it in preparation for the sale?

Friday the afternoon before the auction, Brian Dahle is already tired from all the physical work of picking up and delivering items to the site. Accompanied by his wife Megan who is attempting to make a final list of what is what and who it belongs to, Brian is heard to mumble, "I'm getting worried!" Nobody involved has ever run an auction before, and the sudden burst of new items continues to flow in. The decision was made to close the gates for new entries at noon and more than one potential consignor was disappointed. The success of the auction was beginning to get unmanageable. It was decided that the only way to proceed was to split the auction into 2 separate auctions, one for small items, the other for major equipment.

Lillian Arnold of BVFRC now has to get another public address system to set up in the second truck for new auctioneer. and arrange to get it installed.  This second truck arrived only a few minutes before the auction actually began on Saturday. Others struggle late into the night getting items tagged with numbers and preparing the paperwork which must be ready before the auction begins. Chaos yes, but miraculously it all gets done on time.


The registration office.

The auction was held on the property of Big Valley Power, Bieber's electric co-generation plant. Use of the land was allowed at no cost by Bob McDonald, manager of the facility. An entire office building where registration and payments were made was also made available by Big Valley power where desks and computer equipment were set up.


Bob McDonald, manager of Big Valley Power (on the right) visits with staff.


Refreshments were supplied by the Big ValleyRecreation District.

Taking advantage of the auction, and to supply necessary food and refreshments, (it was a hot sunny day) the Big Valley Recreation district set up a concession stand and sold sandwitches and soft drinks. Proceeds from the sales went to financing the public swimming pool located near the Memorial Hall.