THOMAS COUNTY – To call Friday’s Sandhills Fire Relief auction a resounding success is almost a slight; almost 400 people came through the Thomas County Fairgrounds on a frankly frigid night to support fundraising efforts in the wake of early October’s Bovee Fire.
Event organizer Dr. McKenzie Beals says that the auction brought in over $100,000 total for the farmers, ranchers, and volunteer fire departments affected by the blaze. The eye-opening number accounts only for the items auctioned off that night; the count of free-will monetary donations is still ongoing.
Eighteen items were live auctioned over a span of about two hours; alfalfa bales were a particularly hot commodity, given the dry conditions of the past growing season.
The centerpiece of the evening, and the last item of the live auction, was the Mike Moody Memorial Quilt, a tapestry of favorite things of Purdum Fire’s Mike Moody, who lost his life in the blaze; it reached a final price of $3400.
Remarkably, after its sale, the quilt was immediately donated to the Moody family.
The silent auction started with 124 items; by the time bidding had ended, it had swelled to well over 150. Between 30 and 40 additional auction items were brought in throughout the evening, including jams and horseradish baskets, one of which sold for $150.
The money, according to Dr. Beals, will go through the Custer County Foundation into the hands of Nebraska Cattlemen, who have set up a disaster relief fund through which Sandhills farmers and ranchers affected by the fire can apply for financial assistance.
The estimated delivery time for such a good-sized chunk of change to be correctly processed is several weeks; once the Custer County Foundation completes its paperwork, the money should be available to Nebraska Cattlemen sometime in December.
A relief application for producers affected by the fire is available here.