Rotarian Neil Flynn with some of the bikes that will be auctioned off at this year’s Rotary Auction. The auction is this Saturday at SEAPARC Leisure Complex.

Rotarian Neil Flynn with some of the bikes that will be auctioned off at this year’s Rotary Auction. The auction is this Saturday at SEAPARC Leisure Complex.

Rotary auction comes with community spirit

Spanning into 70 booths, more than 700 items, the all-day event could be the biggest auction yet in Sooke.

What’s the loudest noise in Sooke? Is it the pounding waves of the Pacific? The echoing squawk of an eagle? It’s neither. It’s the beating heart of a volunteer.

As the Sooke Rotary Club ramps up for its 26th auction this Saturday (April 30) at  SEAPARC Leisure Complex, the Sooke Mirror took a closer look at the small army of volunteers who work tirelessly to bring it all together.

So far this year, the Rotary accumulated more than $60,000 worth of goods and services for the auction; everything from gift cards from local businesses, bikes, to original artwork, to fishing equipment. Even a kayak.

Sounds easier than it is, noted Neil Flynn, the Rotary’s “auction king” who’s helped coordinate the auction’s planning and development for the last 10 years.

“It’s a huge event, so getting it all set up in a couple of days, getting enough volunteers, coordinating the collection of 700 items for the live and the silent auction, that’s a huge effort,” he said, adding that takes what seems like months.

Spanning into 70 booths, complete with full catering services and a wide selection of items to bid on, the operation is not what anyone would call simple. Still, Flynn said he enjoys doing it.

“I enjoy the challenge of it and making it all happen, because we know it’s an important event for the Sooke community.”

The auction has certainly come a long way, recalls Jerry Van Ek, who, since joining Sooke Rotary nearly 28 years ago, is one of the club’s longest-serving members. Having been a pivotal point of the auction’s evolution and success, Ek now looks back with pride.

“I’m very satisfied in doing what I did. I’ve been focusing personally on the Sooke community because that’s where I felt I could make my best contribution,” he said. “If you want to do something worthwhile with your time, this is certainly one of the avenues that you can do it in.”

Ek’s time with the auction goes back to the start when it began as a garage sale upstairs at the Sooke Community Hall in 1990, with a separate silent auction displaying items across 25 tables.

The garage sale was not very satisfying, as they’d end up with a lot of leftover merchandise which they had to figure out how to get rid of it all, Ek said.

They then did away with the garage sale and focused on the silent auction during the day and the live auction in the evening, which grew into a bigger and bigger social event.

“The big shift in gears came when we left the community hall and went over to the SEAPARC at the area in late 1990s,” said Ek.

“We had room to add stuff to it, have it become more attractive to people. We made food available around suppertime, and entertainment grew, and it became quite successful as a fundraiser.”

To sweeten the deal, Rotarians started bringing in musicians for entertainment, and local restaurants became involved to provide food and drink to visitors.

This year, a cash bar is also available.

Still, biggest challenge every year is collecting donations throughout the community from individuals and businesses, and organizing it all into a single event.

“That’s a challenge for the person in charge, because they don’t get everything until the very last day, but it always seems to come together,” Ek said.

For Flynn, it’s already routine. Set it up, bring it all together, then take it all apart and plan for the next one.

“We dissect what went on, what could be improved, and then starting in September we start to plan it out again,” he said.

New this year is the Sooke Hall of Excellence, where visitors can see firsthand some of the most giving and dedicated people in the local community.

The Rotary silent auction begins this Saturday at 10 a.m. with an opening ceremony and runs until 5 p.m. The live auction runs from 6 to 9 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read