The Winter Fishtrap “New Agrarians” event not only packed in participants Feb. 16-18 but won big financial support from the community.
The program was capped by the first-ever Winter Fishtrap fundraiser, a dinner and auction held at Hurricane Creek Grange Feb. 18, which raised approximately $15,000 to help maintain the program going forward.
Organizers were thrilled to see how many members of the agricultural community came to the fundraiser. It was sold out.
“I heard a lot of talk about agricultural issues and books,” said Fishtrap Executive Director Shannon McNerney. “No topic is a barrier to interacting with Fishtrap. What I love is there was a mixture of people — the level of conversation was high — nobody was dumbing it down.”
“New Agrarians” Panel Moderator Nellie McAdams, farm preservation director for Rogue Farm Corps, was impressed by the intersection of literature and agriculture in Wallowa County, and the grasp of both story and policy concerns demonstrated by attendees and organizers.
“I think, given that this is a community of writers and storytellers, it was good to have everyone telling their own story,” she said.
That storytelling continued throughout the fundraising dinner with conversation so thick that attendees had to lean across the tables and shout to be heard over the buzz.
“It was great,” said McNerney. “We saw lots of Fishtrap friends and new friends –– lots of love. We felt a lot of support from the community.”
The fundraiser followed the return of Winter Fishtrap after a seven-year hiatus and the success bodes well for continued programming.
The group auctioned off youth summer and adult winter Fishtrap registrations and books and art created by local artists. Individuals also donated in a paddle race during which attendees began bidding at $1,500 and little by little got the opportunity to donate down to $25.
The Paddle race brought in $7,500.
An anonymous donor had agreed to match funds up to $2,500.
The dinner, which served 80, was prepared by chefs Lynne Curry and Paula Austin.
Fishtrap is a literary nonprofit centered in Enterprise that encourages “clear thinking and good writing in and about the west.” Among the many programs offered by the group are Summer Fishtrap writer’s conference, Winter Fishtrap lecture series, the Imnaha Writer’s Retreat, Story Lab youth program and The Big Read community-wide examination of a work of literature and the issues revealed through the story.