Old favorites, new faces take center stage at Geneva Bar & Grill
AUCTION ACTION — Above, Carl Anderson and Bill Kortz hold a shovel donated by Frontier Communications for the 29th Annual Geneva Cancer Auction last weekend. Below, Whitey Hagen makes the annual walk for cash around the bar. (Star Eagle photos by Kathy Paulsen)
By KATHY PAULSEN
For 29 years, Geneva and the surrounding territory have united in an effort to combat the effects of cancer on human happiness. Cancer is dreadful, strong and mind boggling, but it will eventually know defeat.
On Friday, January 11 at 7 p.m. Whitey Hagen welcomed everyone to Geneva Bar & Grill for the annual Geneva Cancer Auction. Whitey began, "God Bless you all for everything that you have done over the past 28 years to help find a cure for cancer. Some of you don't look like you are that old. A lot of good things have happened during this annual event, and we have raised a lot of money. "
Whitey went on to say, "Somebody from our area volunteered to go and pick up donated items for the auctions over the years and I am sad to say that person, Dean Johnson, died two months ago. He will be greatly missed by many." Whitey then asked everyone to observe a moment of silence for Dean, and everyone else we have lost to cancer.
During these 29 years, Hagen has headed a crew of faithful, hard-working individuals who use their talents and good intentions to not only fight the disease but give honor to those who suffered and won or lost the battle.
A total of $1 million has been raised over the years in Geneva, and now they are working on their second million. It is thought that by the conclusion of the cancer auctions in Geneva and Lyle this year, the great people of these areas will have contributed $3 million to the Rochester Cancer Telethon.
Then Whitey said, "Let's get down to the work at hand, and get busy with the auction,” and asked for the first item up for bid.
Once again the Geneva cancer auction started by auctioning off a five-pound bag of potatoes, a five-pound bag of onions and a pound of that great Hope Butter. Roger Shaunce has been donating potatoes and onions and Victor Mrotz at the Hope Creamery has been donating pounds of his famous Hope Butter for a great number of years.
Over the course of the auctions each year, a total of 200 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of huge, cancer fighting onions, and 128 pounds of butter are donated from these two great guys.
The 2012 Geneva Cancer Run, a motorcycle ride held in June last year, had many representatives on hand Saturday afternoon that donated $2,000. They also announced the 2013 event would be held on Saturday, June 8.
DeAnn Randall Jensen said, "If someone you love has felt cancer, come and ride on June 8.”
Another tradition was observed as many dozens of cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls, caramel rolls and great breads were made and donated by Cheri Krejci of Blooming Prairie. Cheri took over the job of making rolls and breads that her mother, Bonnie Sloan, started many years ago. Bonnie died September 2 of 2008 from cancer.
Another daughter of Bonnie’s, Cindy, attended the auction for the first time and was awestruck. Cindy said her mother used to love to come to the Geneva Cancer Auction.
The local auction has had a number of fantastic pie bakers over the years, including Elaine Peterson, who always comes up with a prize-winning pie like this year’s graham cracker creme pie that raised $70.
Karen Osmundson’s famous homemade caramels are always appreciated, as are LaVoy Ebnet’s walnuts.
Bryce Ingvaldson donated pickled fish and Brian Muri furnished fresh, never frozen perch and northern. Bryce is also proud of his lefse-making ability, and he should be. He makes many; some were paired up with a pound of Hope butter.
Something new this year was wild salmon, which is "head and tails" above genetically altered or farm raised salmon. Eugene Cornelius brought in jars of the real thing caught in Michigan and presented it for auction.
Terry Peterson, a former Geneva resident who now lives in Rochester, once again donated a handmade fishing rod that was made by a man in his 90s.
And of course, as always, there was a great collection of meat and cheese trays from Geneva Meats and Steve’s Meat Market.
Whitey promoted fresh liver, cut by his own hands and donated by Geneva Meats, paired with onions.
Lloyd Kaplan again donated some of his great homemade horseradish.
An apple a day is another cancer fighter. Ruth Johnson was one who came up with apple crisp, while others donated apple pie.
Wine was popular again this year, including rhubarb, strawberry, dandelion, grape, and apple. They also had both pudding and Jell-O shots.
A great group of Albert Lea Daybreakers Kiwanis members were there Friday night and Saturday to help take auction items around. This Kiwanis group has been helping with the Geneva Cancer auction for a great number of years. A group of people from Rochester and University of Minnesota research teams were also in Geneva on Saturday.
Also on hand this year were several representatives of the girls’ basketball and football teams from NRHEG who wanted to do their share as they presented items. The girls also donated a "Minnesota Gym Rats" Class AA T-Shirt from the Minnesota State Basketball tournament, that they had all autographed.
Nic Mangskau, one of the local football players helping, may well have stolen the show Saturday afternoon in his "professional" runway walk to sell a London Fog coat, but it says a lot more than that. Many organizations have their demise because the young or young at heart didn't step up and help those who have worked long and hard and have gotten a little tired to carry the burden. Young people are an inspiration to the elderly and vice versa.
A member of the Relay for Life group who brought items for auction reported this Southern Minnesota area by population was fourth in the nation for their benevolent work.
No dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy could match the concentrated balancing act of Hagen when he goes forth with a bar tray balanced on his head to collect donations. Whitey made his first trip around the bar Friday night.
Whitey said to donate quickly, as it was difficult for him to keep the tray on his head for a long time as he turned 80 last summer. His son Greg commented that he would be O.K. as "Digger," Tom Donley, who digs graves in many are cemeteries, was "in the house." Digger commented back, “I will dig it, but I won't cover it.”
Crossroads Trailers in Albert Lea offered to do a "balancing act," so to speak. The company agreed that for every $100 donated, they would match the donation up to $400. When Greg first counted the money that had been donated it was announced only $242 had been collected. Whitey then made another trip around the bar and another $100 or so was donated. After all was said and done, Crossroads Trailers announced they would donate enough to bring the grand total to $1,000.
On Saturday Whitey once again did his third balancing act, this time helping with Brian Fitterer’s donation to Locks of Love. Brian had not cut his hair for over the past two years, hoping to get the length of his hair to that magic number of 10 inches so he could donate it to Locks of Love, which helps people who have lost their hair to cancer radiation treatments. This "balancing act" first raised $935 and it was later announced that someone had donated $65, which brought the total donation to $1,000.
No department store could bring out more originality then items made or donated by the cancer crusaders that continue to give every year. There were quilts small and large, and beautiful tributes to our local heritage. There also necklaces, bracelets, and scarves, some made and designed by residents, that would rival any uptown store. There were craft items, including some painting on saws. The auction also had "basket" items.
This first weekend included a beanbag yard toss, an electronic dart game, a NAPA racecar and a flat screen TV. There were drills and socket sets for the handyman, Kitchen Aid roasting pans, crock pots, knife sets, recipe books, spice racks and donut makers for the cooks, food for the cats, dogs and birds. There were stuffed animals, a Disney Princess collection and baby quilts for the kids and many sweatshirts, T-shirts and caps.
There are items that are priceless, like none other than you have seen or will see again. Try a trike with a built-in express wagon or a homemade wooden truck made and donated by Ted Hellie.
A $500 donation received in memory of Donna Johnson was announced at the conclusion of the auction on Friday night.
This year’s auction will resume on Friday night, January 18th at 7 p.m. and again on Saturday, January 19th at 2 p.m. at Geneva Bar & Grill. The first items up for bid on Saturday will be farm-related items, so our local farmers and agriculture people are advised to come early.
Once again Hagen will be traveling to Rochester for his yearly presentation on behalf of the many people in our Southern Minnesota area during the Eagles Cancer Telethon. Start watching for Whitey about 11 or so on Sunday morning on KTTC channel 10. He is scheduled to make our Southern Minnesota donation at noon.
Speaking of Whitey, he wants to thank everyone for this great first weekend of the 2013 Cancer Auction. He was really pleased with all the donations and support.
There are many who donated and were an active part who aren't mentioned. We try to include as many as we can because every effort is appreciated.
Whitey and LaJune Hagen said, "Whether you are mentioned or not, you are appreciated for your participation from the bottom of our hearts, and then some!"
What would this auction be without so many unselfish and kind people?