Hundreds of items up for bid on opening weekend

OPENING WEEKEND — Makenna Jacobs gets her hair cut for a “Locks of Love” donation during the Geneva Cancer Auction last weekend. The auction concludes this weekend. Drop off items to donate at Geneva Bar & Grill. (Star Eagle photo by Kathy Paulsen)


Staff Writer

It has been more than 30 years since Whitey Hagen first helped raise money for cancer research. He caught a chicken one night after work at Wilson Foods in Albert Lea. He then sought donations for that chicken while at the bar and proceeded to donate the money to the Eagles Cancer Telethon.

The rest is history.

Several years later he and his wife, LaJune, along with Hank and Judy Thompson, organized the first Geneva Cancer Auction, and the auctions continue to provide a great mix of items that people will never find in department stores.

About 150 people registered for bidding numbers for the 33rd annual auction, which kicked off two weekends of action Friday, Jan. 13 at Geneva Bar and Grill. A total of 108 items were put up for bid on Friday night and 262 items on Saturday.

The action resumes Friday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. and again Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m.

A number of auctioneers offered their services on opening weekend, including locals Whitey Hagen, Jamie Hagen, Tracy Holland, and Jim Manges, along with Bret Walters and Jeramie Winch from Stewartville. Whitey and Tracy have been offering their services for all 33 years of the auction.

Greg, Jamie, Keith Hagen, Brittni Hagen, Brenna Hagen, Joel Langlie, Jesse Quam and Daryl Paulsen were among those who helped take items around the crowd of people.

LaJune Hagen served as treasurer, and Tina Hagen, Karen Quam, Vicki Manges, Jayne Busho and Barb Kuchenbecker assisted at the clerk’s table; Ruth Hagen organized donations.

An assortment of Geneva Cancer Auction items was available for sale.

Jamie Hagen introduced his dad, DeWayne, or "Whitey" as he is best known. Whitey said he was still able to get up on the stage that is set up each year for the auction, and he did and got things started at 7 on Friday night saying, “Who is here for the beer and eats? Who is here for the auction?” which drew a great round of applause.

Whitey went on to say that some people have been there for the cancer auction every year and he thanked them. He reminded everyone that he proudly delivered $90,000 to the Eagles Cancer Telethon in January of 2016, which he said was some pretty good money.

He went on to say, “We are close to reaching the $1.5 million mark after 33 years, thanks to all of you, and I am very proud.”

Whitey went on to tell how he, LaJune and Hank and Judy Thompson organized the first auction in 1985.

He said our area lost some great people this past year who had been great supporters of the Geneva Cancer Auction, including Judy Klukow, who died in July, and Peggy Sorenson, who died just a few weeks ago. Many items for the auction were donated in memory of these two great ladies.

He went on to say that it is tough to lose people. We all have friends and relatives who have been touched by cancer and helped by special people.

“I don’t know all of them, but there have been many,” he said.

Whitey got the auction started with a blanket Judy Klukow made while fighting cancer. The blanket brought a high bid of $50, and was followed by two scarves made by Judy that brought $30.

Whitey reminded everyone that this was “the people’s auction” and he thanked everyone for their support, both in attendance, as well as in items donated.

Next up was a jar of pickles that Jayne Busho made. It brought $35. There was a collection of empty wine bottles that Whitey’s granddaughter, Brittni, had painted and donated that brought $25.

Whitey then auctioned a bottle of pickled northern donated by Bryce Ingvaldson, which he said you can’t get anyplace else.

Next was a plate of chocolate chip cookies made and donated in memory of Judy Klulow.

And so the weekend progressed with a great assortment of items that people donated in memory of or in honor of friends and relatives, as well as to help raise money for cancer research.

The auction was brought to a close at 9:40 Friday night.

Whitey got the auction underway on Saturday at 2, thanking the many people who have been there, some for all 33 years, doing what they could to help, as well as support the annual fundraising event.

Several members of the Geneva Wild Game Feed crew were on hand, including Steve Bailey, Alex Beenken, Jason Tieskotter, Bruce Buboltz, and Rodney Farr. They presented a check in the amount of $20,000 that had been raised from the 32nd annual event that held in December. Bailey said that it was rewarding to hear all the positive comments about the Wild Game Feed.

DeeAnn Randall was in attendance and made a presentation on behalf of the Geneva Cancer Motorcycle Run, which raised a total of $20,000, of which $3,000 was donated to the auction and the remainder donated to area people battling cancer.

The Matt Felt Pool Tournament was again held last year and on Saturday Greg Hanson, along with Cody and Jenni Christensen, presented a $1,000 donation.

It was noted that Matt’s birthday would have been in two days, on Jan. 15, so Whitey once again made his way around the bar doing his “tray-balancing act’ and collected money in honor of Matt’s birthday.

Orville Johnson donated a Henry Golden Boy Rifle and it raised $2,100. It was announced that the lucky winner could have engraving placed on the of the gun at Bill’s Gun Shop.

A piece of hardanger, which included, the words, “Bless This House,” was donated by Barb Solberg and raised $250.

There was a special piggy bank donated that was taken around the bar and people were able to place money inside. Later the bank was auctioned to the highest bidder. It was later announced there had been close to $200 inside it and the winner donated it for cancer research.

The piggy bank will be brought back for the second weekend of the Geneva Cancer Auction and hopefully refilled with a great deal of money that may be donated again for cancer research.

Someone donated a “Ball and Chain” from the California island of Alcatraz, that raised $700.

Again, a number of people donated edible items for the auction, including crockpots filled with great foods, including hot soup and chili, as well as pans of lasagna.

Several meat markets donated, sausage, snack sticks, meat and cheese trays and crackers. There were jars of salsa and a couple of snack baskets. 

There were a few different dips, including a triple treat nacho, shrimp dip, and a large plate of taco dip paired up with crackers or chips. The auction had deviled eggs, one group on a vintage plate, as well as dozens of farm fresh “brown eggs” and a couple of jars of black walnuts. There was a variety of home-canned pickles, including those famous pickles that Sue Hill donates each year, as well as horseradish donated by Larry Klocek and Lloyd Kaplan.

The auction included bottles of wine and liquor, apple pie and blueberry schnapps, rum chata pudding shots, a great assortment of sweet items, including homemade cinnamon rolls, banana bread, kolaches, cheesecakes, a Kransekake cake, hot wontons, stuffed mushrooms, peanut brittle. And what would a Geneva Cancer Auction be without homemade cookies?

Eddie VerHey donated containers of fresh rendered lard.

Verona Winegar made and donated a pecan pie and a graham cracker crème pie. The auctioneer said, “She knows how to make it right,” and they brought in some great money.

Victor Mrotz donated two cases of Hope butter paired with assorted breads and rolls.

There was much homemade lefse.

“Eat more lefse, it helps keep the doctor away,” said Whitey.

Several containers of homemade caramels were donated by Karen Osmundson and LaVoy and Mary Ebnet.

The auction included gift certificates, newspaper subscriptions, calendars, framed pictures, including “Life Is Good,” “Summer Time,” a “Hunt” frame, a large picture of a black dog, a Jack Daniel’s wall hanging made using horseshoes, as well as an Amazing Grace item made of horseshoes.

There was a decorative sign, “Take My Hand, And We’ll Make It I Swear,” several pencil drawings, including one of the old Albert Lea High School, and three from Eddie Cochran events.

The auction had a number of Coca-Cola items, beer signs, Terry Redlin mugs, quilts, blankets, afghans, a number of model size items including Harley Davidson motorcycles, semi-trailers, farm equipment toys, including a wood John Deere Tractor, and a red truck that Fern Possin donated. She also donated an antique Emmet the Clown figurine and an old pitcher and bowl set.

There was an EMT sign with chains around the outside of the frame, a “Forever & Ever Amen” sign, an American flag from the VFW in Ellendale, several clocks, and a set of hand-embroidered dish towels made by Peggy Wallerich’s mother.

There were also a couple of snowmen made from vintage perfume bottles donated by Lisa Full, bottles of cologne and other beauty products, painted bottles, wood snowmen with Vikings hats on them, and a Panther dice game board.

Eric Sorenson made and donated a wood lawn chair in memory of his mother, Peggy Sorenson, and six coats that Rudy Janka proudly wore over the years were put up for bid.

Pat King and Pat Ceplecha donated a full-course dinner party for six people.

There were also sporting items, like footballs and tickets, farm-related items, T-shirts, pet, bird and squirrel feeders, and bags of seed. One of the local vet clinics donated a wellness exam.

There was also a couple of flashlights, organizers, folding camp stool, popcorn maker and popcorn, kitchen utensils, coffee mugs and tumblers, “grilling time” items, LP exchanges, a “Mine To Love” baby doll along with an eight-piece feeding set, and a small set of Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls and a handmade shelf unit from Jack & Barb Kuchenbecker.

It was nice to see that several ladies from Iowa were back this year. They brought along a great number of items for the auction, as well as took a number of items back home with them.

This auction also included several special events, including having the first woman, Brittni Wangsness, auction off a couple of items. Brittni was a little nervous but did a great job. Her grandfather, Whitey, was also a bit nervous the first time he worked an auction.

Makenna Jacobs had her hair cut at 5:30 Saturday. After the first cut was made, Trisha Wayne took her over to her beauty shop, Bliss Beauty, and finished the haircut. Makenna’s hair was donated to ‘Locks of Love.” The haircut raised about $300 as Whitey, the level-headed Norwegian as he describes himself, once again strolled the bar and grill balancing a serving tray on top of his bald head, seeking donations.

Raffle tickets were available for the 48” SMART TV with Blu-Ray player, as well as five cash prizes. The winning tickets will be drawn on Saturday night before the 2017 Geneva Cancer Auction concludes.