SILVANA — Roy Strotz used the same paddle, No. 1, during the auction every year.
The number was retired after his death in 2012. Since then, it’s been displayed in a shadowbox in front of the crowd at the annual Silvana Fair Board Auction, a tradition in this small unincorporated town along the Stillaguamish River.
His widow Darlene Strotz now organizes the event with help from her friends. Some are on the fair board, where Strotz serves as treasurer.
This year the fundraiser is on Saturday at the Silvana Viking Hall. Doors open at 5 p.m. It starts with a silent auction, followed by a live auction. Those who register are entered into a drawing at the end of the night for a $250 prize.
In the past, local businesses have donated 15 tons of gravel and a year’s worth of fresh, cage-free organic eggs. And there are always baked goods.
“We get homemade cinnamon twists that we usually get 700 bucks for,” Strotz said. “We get marionberry pies, we get chocolate chip cookies, we get fudge — that all goes sky-high.”
Usually, the same person wins the sweet cinnamon treat each year. The woman who bakes them enters a box of a dozen.
“She keeps saying she’s going to retire, but we say no,” Strotz joked.
Strotz, now 76, and her husband moved into their house west of Arlington in 1961. It had been in his family for three generations. The pair opened a store together on the property, called Strotz’s Country Feed. It closed in December when Strotz retired.
Strotz believes the auction started about 35 years ago. Her husband took over a few years after that, and turned their home into its headquarters.
On Tuesday, the rec room was lined with long tables, covered in home goods and gift baskets. A group of about a dozen women began to arrive around 10 a.m.
They started to gather donations in January, and this week have been working about six hours each day, all on their own time.
“If we didn’t have all this help, it would be disastrous,” Strotz said.
Cathy Pryor and Char Tyler filled out thank-you notes for each donor. The sisters grew up in Silvana and showed dairy calves at the fair when they were younger.
“We were in 4-H until we graduated from high school,” Pryor said. “We went on our way, and now we’re back 60 years later.”
They learned valuable lessons in the club, such as public speaking, decision-making and responsibility.
They remember working as part of a team, and enjoyed teaching the younger kids.
“It didn’t matter how old you were,” Tyler said. “The 17-year-olds helped the 8-year-olds. We all hung in the barn together. I loved that part.”
Through the large windows, the women had a view of the blue sky and ochre fields, and a red barn in the distance.
People dropped off donations throughout the day, including Rick Zahalka. He placed a spinning wheel for yarn in the corner, next to the gift baskets wrapped in cellophane.
“Thank you ladies, for doing all this for us,” he said as he turned to leave.
If you go
The Silvana Fair Board Auction opens at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Silvana Viking Hall, 1331 Pioneer Highway. The silent auction starts at 5:30 p.m., and the live auction at 6 p.m. Register for free at the door.