The cake auction, the largest fundraiser annually for the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair, once again broke a record, pulling in $87,300 overall.
This beat the previous record, set just last year, of $70,000.
“It’s an incredibly important event for the fair because it raises enough money to keep the fair free for the public and the 4-H program going for the youth of Carroll County,” Amy Petkovsek, cake auction superintendent for the fair, told the Times prior to the auction Wednesday night.
After the record-braking evening, she added that the youth activities go on throughout the year, whether that means caring for livestock or building baking skills, and the fundraising from the cake auction helps keep them alive.
To see the community pledge nearly $90,000 to support the 4-H’ers is powerful, Petkovsek said.
“Whether you bought four wheat rolls, or a $4,000 cake, it all adds up,” she said.
Joseph Battaglia, 11, of the Pleasant Valley 4-H Club was the baker behind the Overall Champion Baked Item at the fair, which alone went for $15,000 at the finale of the auction Wednesday night. The Buyer was Good Ole Carroll County Farm and Business Fair Supporters.
The Good Ole Carroll County Farm and Business Fair Supporters is a group is made up of 26 local farms and businesses who pool their resources to support the fair.
Kenny Staley of Staley’s Body Shop is the head of the group. It’s important to support the cake auction he said, because “It is pretty much what funds the fair and we all want to see it succeed and stay a free fair if we can.”
If the fair organizers have to look at other ways to find revenue, the result might be "not the same as a rural county fair,” he said. "It would become more commercialized.”
The Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair is the largest free-admission fair in Maryland, Petkovsek said.
Planning for the fair is a yearlong process, but the group buckles down about two weeks before the auction. Several of the members are those who had children in 4-H & FFA clubs, and now donate in order to continue supporting it through another means.
By joining a group, even a relatively small donation can go a long way, he said.
Another major donor at Wednesday’s auction was the The Carroll County Farm and Business Syndicate, a group of about 40 farms and businesses that donated about $13,000 to the fair. Trevor Hoff, who acts as the head of the syndicate, said that as employers, they want to support the next generation coming up through the 4-H & FFA clubs.
“These programs give some life experiences that are valuable to all of us in the farm and business community when we are looking at employees," he said. "Whether it be working with another person, knowing how it is to be part of a group ... or talking to the judges as they critique your cake, all of these experiences help you later on in life.”
Despite getting started a little later than usual with their planning, they pulled together a strong showing, Hoff said. In addition to contributing to the group, many of the individuals bid on cakes for themselves.
Keeping the fair free is also a goal of the Carroll County Farm and Business Syndicate. By making it easier for families to see what it’s all about, hopefully a few more families each year will decide to get involved, he said.
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Hoff emphasized that it was the group’s effort that was important. “I’m just the person who gets to call everyone and ask them to support the fair — and it’s a pretty easy task because not many people turn you down when you’re asking for the fair,” he said.