Roosters raise funds at Barnyard Bash

May. 12, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Dozens of people spent their Saturday supporting the local art community as they munched on barbecue in between raising their bidding cards in an auction of some of fanciest ceramic roosters around — artwork that has been on display in businesses around Lee County for the last several months.

The Barnyard Bash, held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Depot Park in downtown Sanford, was a fundraiser for the Lee County Arts Council. That group in turn helps fund various programs in the community, from the Heart of Carolina Jazz Society to the Brush and Palette Club, Lee County Industries, the Lee County Community Orchestra and more.

Auctioneer Lisa York of Adcock and Associates ran a lively show, keeping the audience laughing — and spending — by alternately offering $10 of her own money to those who were out-bid or scolding bidders who suddenly got cold feet. Her favorite target for light-hearted jabs was Tom Snell, who was both a creator and a patron of the rooster art.

Snell gave his wife Renee all the artistic credit for their “Copper Doodle-Do,” saying he simply did the hard labor of bending and soldering the rooster’s metallic feathers. On Saturday, Snell — who as past chairman of the Board of Directors for the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce permanently adopted another rooster for the group’s downtown office — went home with a third bird, the simple-yet-elegant “Brewster” by Gloria Thomas.

Sanford City Council member Rebecca Wyhof, sitting with the Snells and others in a boisterous group, also received a lot of grief from York after bidding unsuccessfully for several birds. Alongside them was Carol Carlson, executive director of Willing Hands, who celebrated enthusiastically when she won “Sir Cocky,” a carousel-style rooster created by Liz Whitmore.

A few birds later, Lee County High School art teacher Jody Stouffer showed solidarity with fellow art teacher Brian Wohleben, buying his “El Gallo Tatuado.” A colorful and abstract tattoo encompasses Wohleben’s entire right arm, and he gave his rooster a full-body piece in a similar style.

All told, 18 of the 20 roosters took in several thousand dollars for the Lee County Arts Council, going for anywhere from $100 to $310 each. The final two roosters were also originally created for the Arts Council, although Executive Director Beth Whitehead said they will now go to fund the artistic dreams of the young woman who made them.

Cinthya Gomez, who moved to the U.S. from Mexico five years ago when she was 13, had called Sanford home recently. She crafted two intricately designed roosters for the project — “Dreaming is Reality,” with flowers and pastels, and “Steam Punk Rooster,” dressed up in the eponymous style — before her family moved to Arizona. Keeping in mind the title of one of her roosters, Whitehead said the money people paid for Gomez’s two pieces would help fund her dream of going to college and studying art.

“Come on you guys,” Whitehead said to the crowd, which eventually paid a combined $580 for Gomez’s two roosters. “We’re really glad she left her mark on Sanford, and we want to help her out.”

Whitehead wasn’t immediately sure how much the event raised for the Arts Council, with the combination of auction proceeds as well as ticket sales and other donations. She did say it will probably be a little lower than organizers had hoped, although that’s not going to stop them from doing this again next year. People at the auction suggested turtles or goats for the next animal, although there’s still time for others to speak up as well.

“We need an animal for next year, so email (Whitehead),” York told the crowd. “Tell your friends.”