Barbecue, pie auction proceeds
total $17,273 for junior fair
By Dixie Pettit
“Twenty-five hundred dollars for a jar of cookies?” exclaimed a 10-year old girl at the Ramona Junior
Fair pie auction for the first time.
So endures the tradition of the Ramona Junior Fair Pie Auction — and the generous people who support the youth who benefit from it.
The annual pie auction and barbecue is the primary fundraiser for the Ramona Junior Fair, scheduled for July 30 through Aug. 6. Proceeds provide necessary resources for the day-to-day operations surrounding participating organizations such as 4-H, Grange and Future Farmers of America (FFA).
The money, according to junior fair veteran Crissy Tobiason, covers the grounds, judges’ fees, utilities and other expenses incurred while hosting the Junior Fair.
The fundraiser was kicked off with barbecue meat provided by Specialty Meats of Escondido and dinner prepared by the youngsters on the junior fair’s steering committee. Patrons noshed on barbecued pork, turkey or beef with beans and fresh corn-on-the-cob. Food was plentiful and the atmosphere light as the crowd awaited the auction. Many comments could be heard throughout the crowd as people wondered who would get the traditional “pie-in-the-face” that evening.
Festivities began with three cakes and birthday wishes to Nick and Matt Taratino, Sierra Fields, Nicole Donais and Dotty Cronin. The cakes were divvied-up and served to the crowd in an attempt to tease the sweet tooth of the bidders.
Returning to the auction this year came the highly-prized and sought-after Toth chocolate chip cookies, Dreyer cheesecake and Stipp cream puffs.
Ramona Rodeo Queen Sarah Baughman and Junior Miss Rodeo Ramona Megan Buckley made a guest appearance to benefit the cause as the recipients of the anticipated pie-in-the-face event. The two pies were sold at auction for $315 each. With David and Debbie Hankins of Hankins Construction) pulling in the top bid, Mike McKee (owner of TNT Auctions) was quick to match it for the privilege of smashing a pie onto the face of a rodeo queen.
Andrew Hankins, son of David and Debbie Hankins, royally smashed a pie into the face of 2011 rodeo queen Baughman, 17, from Lakeside), followed by McKee doing the same to Buckley, 16, from Ramona).
“That was the best sweet I could possibly buy,” declared McKee.
The auction was fairly low-key and proceeded as “normal” auctions do, with friendly bidding and lots of smiles and good-natured ribbing between bidders and auctioneer. That is, until the Toth Cookies came out.
Wow. Bidding began for the cookies at $100 on reputation alone. Within a few seconds a bidding frenzy ensued. Fierce competition among bidders launched that massive jar of perfectly-shaped cookies to Ramona auction history.
The Toth cookies soared to an all-time high of $2,500 — beating out its last high of “only” $900 in previous years.
“Anyone who’s had a taste of these cookies knows they are worth it,” stated professional livestock auctioneer—and former Ramona 4-H’er—Levi Gassaway.
Within a fraction of time following the sale, the Toth cookie jar was lighter by half its contents, with the winning bidder, Ralph Turner of Ramona Lumber Co. offering the first cookies to rival bidder John Scott and then to auctioneer Gassaway.
With baskets of fresh vegetables, pristine cakes and unique baked goods selling for unbelievable amounts, bidders began pooling resources to bid against rival clubs.
“The clubs bid against each other,” explained Tobiason. “The Paisanos often get into a bidding war against the Stars. It’s a lot of fun!”
Treats with creative names such as “Squirrel-poop pie,” and “Cow-pie Cupcakes” were on the auction block and sold for hundreds of dollars.
Supporters of the 4-H, FFA and Grange programs said they look forward to the summer to reward months of hard work performed by these programs for youth in Ramona. Bidders come to the auction prepared to spend money. People know it is not about the baked goods, but the kids themselves.
Yes, that Dreyer Cheesecake is “worth every penny,” according to many who have actually tasted the delectable treat, but more importantly, they agreed, the buyers are bidding on the future of each and every child in the organization.
Tobiason raved about the programs supported by the Ramona Junior Fair.
“The auction is a way for the kids to work hard and to see results for that work,” she said. “It is so much more rewarding for everyone to have an event like this (instead of just asking for donations to help support the fair). What you saw was just a fraction of work. By the time these kids get through these programs, they excel in community service, problem solving — they are solid, trustworthy citizens that you want to have as your neighbor. No one is in it for a free ride. Kids cooperate, get along and work together. You don’t get many programs in any other place where you can put a 9-year-old working with a 16- or 18-year-old and coming up with problems and solutions for getting things done. The kids made all the food, it is a team effort with everyone working together in order to get everything set up.”
According to Tobiason leaders are available for questions or advice, but whatever the kids decide is how it gets done.
Even if the Toth Cookies, Dreyer Cheesecake and Stipp Cream Puffs seem out of range for meager wallets and trying economic times, opportunities still come around for the patient bidder.
At day’s end fair coffers boasted a grand total of $17,273 — a record year, said Tobiason. Coordinators collected $845 in miscellaneous donations, with an additional $988 coming from the barbecue and $14,440 from the auction.
Saturday’s pie auction and barbecue were the forerunner to the Ramona Junior Fair and Livestock Auction. All activities will be held at the Ramona Junior Fairgrounds at 431 Aqua Lane.