"Ring, ring!" urged an adult volunteer at Cloverleaf Hall during a brief lull in the annual 4-H radio auction Saturday morning.
The ringing of phones - indicating bids coming in for 441 donated items - soon resumed, and by the time it was all over the 18th annual local 4-H auction had brought in $10,037, including $305 in cash donations.
The auction is held over KWVR radio every year, with station owner Lee Perkins personally on the scene interviewing 4-Hers and having them read item numbers and bid amounts during the four-hour event.
The live auction is the major fund raising project of the Wallowa County 4-H program, which involves 40 percent of all youngsters in the county, a much higher rate of participation than most places.
The money is used for a variety of 4-H activities, everything from project books and travel costs to fair ribbons and 4-H van expenses.
The record amount raised was $15,000 in 2002, the year that included a bull elk tag donated to the cause by The Nature Conservancy.
"J & G Trucking has placed a minimum bid on everything. That helps a lot," event chairman Eileen Williams said halfway through the auction. "Everything is worth at least $10."
The local trucking company had upped a $5 minimum bid first made on all items by Randall Anderson, and beat a minimum bid of $6 made in last year's auction by Ed and Carol Wallace.
When it was all over, generous J & G owners Jim and Gina Birkmaier contributed over $1,000 to the cause, including some for bids on more expensive items they wanted.
The highest bid of the day was $250 for silversmith lessons to learn to make jewelry, donated by T. Lion, Silversmith, of Joseph. "There's lots and lots of kids helping this year," Williams said, pointing to three rows of three phones staffed by 4-H members, with others sitting or standing, waiting their line. Williams estimated that 20 to 30 4-Hers helped with the auction in some way, and 15 adults also volunteered - not counting all those who donated auction goods.
"I like answering the phone," 4-H Court member Christina Montgomery said. "It's fun to hear what everyone is bidding on." She said, for example, there was a hot bidding war going on for awhile for some "dough babies."
Montgomery said she was outbid on a green rope halter she wanted. In addition to volunteering, she had intended to bring some cookies to be auctioned off. Unfortunately, her three-year-old brother, Cole, got to them first.
Radio bidders had a wealth of things to bid on, all reflecting the talents, productivity and generosity of the local area.There were tons of hay, yards of gravel and homemade pies of many flavors - blueberry, apple, lemon meringue huckleberry cream or take your pick. Just by listening to the radio, a bidder could get his cat spayed, his eyes checked, his teeth cleaned or his hog slaughtered. And if you missed out this year, the 19th 4-H Radio Auction is only a year away.