By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Holy Trinity is cruising into its 25th annual Spring Fling dinner auction “Dream Cruise” on calm waters because of a dedicated group of committee members who are following a past-proven formula for success.
Each year, the committee uses what has worked well at auctions in the past, improves on details that didn’t, and adds something new to the event to make it unique.
This year’s event is set for 5:30 p.m., Saturday, April 18, at Holy Trinity School gym.
“I guess what really amazes me out of all of it and it is the same with Winstock and Higher Ground is the people that come together and help make it happen,” Holy Trinity dinner auction chair Colleen Entinger said. “People who have been helping for years.”
The Holy Trinity dinner auction committees go all the way back to 1984 when Jack and Petie Littfin of Winsted chaired the first dinner auction.
“We wanted it to be something special, out of the ordinary,” Petie Littfin said. The invitation even suggested formal attire.
The first dinner auction committee was made up of four couples: Jerry and Ronnie Sterner, Mike and Cathy Dudley, the late Stan and Jeanne Fasching, and the Littfins.
The idea for the auction began while the group was sitting around during an evening get-together at one of the couple’s homes.
They were trying to think of different ways to make money for Holy Trinity School.
Mike Dudley told the group about Ducks Unlimited auctions and how it got prints from various artists to make money. He said he could get a few prints for an auction, Petie said.
The group liked Mike Dudley’s auction suggestion and the committee began collecting donations.
“People were so generous,” Petie said.
Late into the night the evening before the first auction, the auction book, still used in today’s auctions, was typed, using a typewriter with mimeograph paper.
The auction was at the Crow River Country Club, with Fred Radde Sr. as auctioneer. A total of 166 people attended, and the auction made a profit of $12,000 for Holy Trinity School.
Over the years, the auction has taken place at a number of locations including Rolling Green Country Club, Medina Ballroom, The Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, the Wayzata Country Club, and a private residence on Lake Minnetonka that included a home tour.
Although the events had been successfully bringing in money to Holy Trinity for 18 years, in 2003, the committee renamed the dinner auction Spring Fling and moved it to the Holy Trinity School gym.
Since having the auction in the school, the committee has come up with some very fun and exciting themes, which have made the auction more entertaining and increased the number attending from 150 to over 300.
Some of the themes have been “There’s No Place Like Home,” “Back to the ‘50s,” and “Treasure Island.”
A German theme, “Gemutlichkeit it’s fun time,” in 2006, made $49,000 and holds the record for making the most money from any of the auctions.
“I like it,” Kathy Schoenfelder Spring Fling committee member said about the auction. “It is incredibly more fun since we brought it back to town and started doing themes and decorating.”
Schoenfelder is able to judge all of the auctions fairly because she, and her husband, Ken, have only missed one auction in the 25 years that Holy Trinity has had the event.
In addition, she has been on the committee for every auction since the fourth year, and a few years, she chaired the event.
What attracts Schoenfelder to the dinner auction is being able to get gift certificates and items that she would normally buy, but all of the money goes to Holy Trintiy School.
Another long-time committee member is Tom Ollig, who has been the emcee for the event for 20 of the 25 years the auction has taken place.
A number of those years, he has been part of the entertainment. Who could forget the night Ollig and Jeff Campbell brought the evening to an end by singing “Goodnight Sweetheart?”
There are donations that have remained popular throughout the 25 years of the auction’s history.
A condo in Colorado has been donated by Fran and the late Barb Otto almost every year of the auction’s history, offering skiing, white water rafting, and golfing.
Sherry Schommer’s 10 one-pound boxes of homemade caramels have started out the live auction since the early ‘90s.
Schommer is from Jordan, MN and she began making her famous caramels while her son attended Holy Trinity School, continuing after he graduated. Her famous one-pound box of caramels has made as much as $700, bringing in thousands of dollars over the years for Holy Trinity.
Technology has made the committee’s job much easier.
A software program now automatically enters each donation into a category, and lays it out in auction book format, produces a bid sheet, and a thank-you can be sent from the entry, as well.
So much better than when Dr. Mike Thoennes took over the auction book in the late ‘80s and entered it on his Altos computer.
Thoennes donated many long days and nights, for about 10 years, getting the auction book ready for printing.
Today, he still donates items to the auction.
“I am thrilled the committee has continued with the dinner auction. It is good for the community, as well as Holy Trinity School,” Thoennes said.
Credit cards have been added to make it easier for the guests to pay at the end of the evening.
Cashiering has also gone to the computers providing a total dollar amount by the end of the evening for the guests and for the committee. Live auction is done right on sight, generating a computerized sheet for the purchase.
“Fund a need” was a new part of the live auction added in 2006, and has benefited the school immensely.
Each year an item that is needed in the school is chosen.
In 2006, enough money was raised to pay for the school’s security system; in 2007, playground equipment was purchased; and in 2008, the school used the money for computers and smart boards.
Anyone interested in attending this year’s dinner auction can contact Colleen Entinger at the Holy Trinity Development Office, (320) 485-2182 ext. 2143.
Tickets are $40 each, or $300 for a table of eight. MasterCard, VISA, and Discover accepted.
Limited seating is available.
A cash bar will be available all evening.
The dinner menu includes chicken kiev over rice pilaf, slow-roasted beef burgundy, seasoned green beans, Waldorf salad, dinner rolls, and white chocolate raspberry layer cake for dessert.