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Staff Writer

Geneva. It's the village with a heart that sends out arteries of love and concern to the many areas that surround it. In its 28th year at Geneva Bar & Grill, thousands visited this little site for the annual Geneva Cancer Auction, to donate, purchase and contribute to the cause for cancer.

This year’s two-weekend event began Friday, Jan. 6. It will conclude with two more big days this weekend, including an appearance by former Minnesota Viking “Benchwarmer” Bob Lurtsema and two Vikings cheerleaders Friday from 6-7 p.m.

But that’s just a small part of the action, spearheaded by Whitey and LaJune Hagen and several extended family members.

As Whitey is quick to say, there would be no auctions if it weren't for the good people of our area who bring and buy while enjoying a night of camaraderie. Old friends, young friends and new customers are welcomed as one.

The Daybreakers Kiwanis Club of Albert Lea does an outstanding job assisting in the auction, and a long list of volunteers help in many ways. Some great auctioneers continue to give of their time and talents year after year.

Not one department store could offer the variety that can be found under one roof. Many items, like a  beautiful hand-crafted fishing pole, quilts and throws lovingly made in memory or in honor of people of all ages, tell a story of love and sacrifice. There's food and more food. 

Every year there are tins of delicious homemade caramels that people clamor for. There's fresh baked banana bread, many types of cookies, bars and pies, plates of deviled eggs, as well as jars of pickled eggs, beets, salsa, home canned tomatoes and pickles. People also donate homemade lefse, caramel corn, trail mix and containers of peanuts and black walnuts. If that isn't enough, there is always a great array of meat and cheese trays, cheese balls and crackers, sausage sticks, and packages of pork chops, steaks and jerky.

There was a wide assortment of Lia Sophia jewelry for the ladies. and Stuff for the guys included wrenches, shovels and mini-machinery type items. The auction also provided toys, collector items, memorabilia and things you'd never expect to find at an auction such as this. 

This year’s auction included a touchdown football bank, which tallies the money inside. In addition, a "Diamond Jo's" bank was taken around the bar on Saturday afternoon so that people could contribute money to its contents before it was auctioned off. There was also a Minnesota Gophers mail box and a toy Pepsi semi that found new homes as well.

Another popular item was gift cards. Roses were bought and donated in honor of a 19-year cancer survivor saying "Thank you God" for all those years.

The "Butter Boy," Victor Mrotz, once again contributed cases of his famous Hope butter.

Cindy Sloan Krecji, a former Ellendale area resident, and her daughter, Lindsay, brought a wonderful array of delicious baked goods to commemorate the life of her mother, Bonnie, who had managed to do so years ago despite her own battle with cancer.

Vi Blazek brought jars of pickles to sell at some of the first auctions. The cancer auction sold hundreds of dollars of her favorites.

Verona Randall Winegar has always been an expert at pie baking and the warm apple pie she brought almost didn't make it to the table. Elaine Peterson also continues to donate some great pies.  A great group from Northwood, Iowa was back with a great array of cheesecakes and such.

Geneva Meats brought an array of wrapped steaks and chops, strips and the like and Steve’s Smokey Acres had those taste tempting trays of meats and cheese. There was also picnic hams from Wagner Foods, German venison beer sausage from Nicollet and venison sausage from Conger Meat Market.

Several Wild Game Feed organizers were on hand on Saturday and proudly presented a check for $17,000 raised from the event in early December.

Available for a quick ride was a stuffed white horse from Wells Fargo, which came complete with saddle and required no feed or batteries. This hot item was quickly bought by someone who enjoyed his fleecy softness. There were also a few teddy bears and beanie babies.

You could also try for services to keep your car or septic system in tip top shape. And this year there were Aloe Vera plants up for bid as well.

Pretty-curled little girls donated those years of growth to "Locks Of Love." Seven-year-old Morgan Blomberg of Geneva was just such a young lady and did it with style and a smile. She collected over $500 from friends and neighbors that she brought along with her on Saturday for donation in honor of her gift.

Morgan’s curls may help some little girl have a wig to cover her head while her hair has a chance to grow, and the money will pay for research. What a happy family for such a sweet little lady. Her smile was a prize winner.

Whitey Hagen did his "flat top" serving tray trip around the room, bringing in another $227 to make a double whammy for cancer, totaling $812.

Harley Jensen was a lifetime resident of Geneva. He did odd jobs and plowed snow and was a friend to everyone. His sisters honored his memory by creating an "Eagle" quilt to be sold on raffle at $2 a ticket. The winning ticket will be drawn Saturday night.

You may also purchase tickets for a chance to win the 51" plasma HDTV with Blu-Ray player, or five cash prizes totaling $1,500. The winners’ names will also be drawn Saturday.

There was — and is — something for everyone to fill your hearts.

The auction resumes again Friday night, January 13th at 7 p.m. at Geneva Bar & Grill, and continues at 2 Saturday afternoon.

If you haven't been to a Geneva Cancer Auction, you really should come and see it for yourself. There is nothing like it.

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