Having fun and helping people all over the world

Many people in the valley, some Mennonites and some not, look forward to the giant Mennonite Relief Sale at the Arkansas Valley Fair Grounds, that took place on Saturday, October 20, this year. The Mennonite Central Committee is the sponsor of the auction and festivities, whose proceeds go to support relief work throughout the world to help poor people be self-supporting, fed, and have access to medical services. It is the premise that people who are able to survive and prosper will be more interested in maintaining peace than desperate, starving people.

The first quilt to be auctioned was the peace quilt, a quilt devoted to peace symbols and not really auctioned off, but used as a symbol for people who want to make $1000, $500, $250, $200, $150, $100, and $50 donations. The quilt raised $8,150. Next up was a double Irish Chain, hand-quilted, by an unknown artist, donated by Marty King. Quilts are the biggest money-maker all around, some quilted back in the midwest and donated by Mennonite quilting  groups. Many local quilters donate, as well. Several quilts by the Prairie Piecers were observed.

Before the quilt auction came the tractor auction. The big money-raiser in that auction was a John Deere tractor restored by John Tomky. It had belonged to his grandfather, and Lincoln Tomky, a great-grandson, was the winning bid at $7300, authorized by his father, Chris Tomky. Chris had urgent field work and was unable to attend the auction. "The Tomkys have been farming in Colorado for five generations," said John Tomky. Jodi Tomky, Chris’s wife,  reminded him there was a short hiatus when one of the girls married a man from Chicago she met in college and moved away for awhile. Eventually, the family came back to Colorado to rejoin the clan in farming here. Chris’s dad is Tom, and John and Tom are brothers, the elders in the family now. Their Great Grandfather Bridey had a dairy farm in Brighton. Altogether, they have been farming in Colorado since July 4, 1876. The tractor they bought was a 1948 John Deere once owned by their great-grandfather.

The main draw of the Mennonite Relief Sale for many non-Mennonites are the canned goods and the wonderful brioches, or cabbage and sausage (or hamburger) rolls. The filling is encased in a delicious yeast bread roll. These rolls are made in advance but frozen and taste as fresh as though they were just baked. Many fruit pies and cobblers, with or without ice cream on top, were also an attraction, as were the fresh baked goods.

The wagon rides delight the little ones, who were taken on board by parents and grandparents. The wagons were pulled around the fairgrounds by a tractor. There was also a little oil-can train for the small children. All sorts of handicrafts and needlework, as well as woodwork, were for sale at reasonable prices. It was a day of fun for all and lots of money raised for missions all over the world.