Rotary Auction turns 70

6 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — It’s a milestone year for the Presque Isle Rotary Club’s signature fundraising and community-building Rotary Auction, and organizers have big changes in store for the 70th annual event.

For the first time in two decades, the auction will return to WAGM-TV.  In addition to airing live on the station’s Fox affiliate station (channel 12 for area Spectrum Cable subscribers) on Saturday, December 16, beginning at 12 noon and running through 7 p.m., the Auction will also be webcast on

“It’s a homecoming of sorts for the Rotary Auction, and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Jason Parent, who along with fellow Rotarian Clint Deschene is co-chairing this year.  “There are not many organizations that can boast an event that has run for seven decades.  We wanted to do a little something different and add some new features this year to mark this impressive occasion.  

“We’ve done that – and then some – all the while honoring the auction’s legacy,” he added. “I can remember watching the Rotary Auction on WAGM while growing up, and many Rotarians fondly remember the days when it was done at the TV station.”

The auction’s date and format are also new. The traditional consecutive three-weeknight, three-hour-per-night auction the week after Thanksgiving is, this year, a one-day (Saturday), seven-hour production in mid-December.

Bidding will feature consecutive 10-minute auction boards featuring 12 items.  Every fourth board, called a Big Board, will feature higher valued items, typically dubbed one-night and three-night items in recent past auctions.  Listings of items up for bid will be available in printed format and online, but TV auction viewers will see descriptions, retail values, current bids, and time remaining.

According to Parent and Deschene, the changes are designed to make the auction broadcast more interactive, fast-paced, and easier to follow and place bids for viewers.

This year, for the first time ever, the Rotary Club will open a Rotary Auction Store in the Aroostook Centre Mall.  An official opening is set for Nov. 18 in the former Deb store just off the Food Court. The store will be open weekends through Dec. 17, when it will become the place for auction bidders to pick up their items.

The store will have exclusive items up for bid, not offered on the broadcast. Patrons can place bids using silent auction sheets, and can “Buy It Now” for 10 percent above the retail price noted, with all proceeds going to the auction.  Additionally, bid sheets will be available for the auction broadcast “Big Board” items, encouraging patrons to “bid up” the items before they go on air.

“We’ve heard a lot of buzz about the Auction Store over the past few weeks as we’ve started to set things up at the mall,” said Deschene.  “We’re looking forward to opening day and the opportunity to meet people from across the region.  Not only will the store provide us with the opportunity to hopefully increase our auction proceeds, but it will allow us to connect our Club with the greater community.”

The store will also be the venue for the Wintergreen Arts Center CHAIRity Auction.  More than two dozen original chairs of various sizes, created by area artists, will be on display and available for bid.  Chairs will be exclusive to the Auction Store and will be up for bid through Dec. 17 at noon. There will also be tickets for a 50/50 super draw and commemorative Christmas tree ornaments being sold by the Presque Isle Kiwanis Club.

In lieu of its special project, PI Rotarians have designated a “Community Project” this year: the upcoming playground at Riverside Park. Rotary has joined with the Kiwanis Club, the United Way of Aroostook and the City of Presque Isle on a project designed to improve outdoor recreation and play opportunities for area families.  A steering committee, comprised of representatives from each organization, has launched an initiative to build the park’s new playground area.

The Rotary Club will designate a portion of auction proceeds to the park project. The remainder of auction proceeds will support local youth literacy, scholarships and polio eradication initiatives, to name a few.

“We are very excited for both the coming auction and the collaborative efforts to build a new playground at Riverside Park,” said Mandy Pooler-Hall, Rotary president.  “Over the many years that our Rotary Auction has been held, hundreds of community causes have benefitted from the millions of dollars raised.  None of this would have been possible without the great efforts of many Rotarians over the generations, and more importantly were it not for the strong community support we have enjoyed.  We are profoundly grateful to all who have (and will) support our efforts to serve the local community.”

For more information, contact Parent at or Deschene at  To inquire about the Community Project to build a new playground at Riverside Park or to donate, contact Rotarians Jane Towle at or Sarah Ennis at