Save The Ozarks auction clears $35K - 'Myrtie Mae' herself (not really) works the crowd, drums up aid

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What's the secret to a successful auction in Eureka? Have one of town's most famous mother figures show up and tell people to get out their checkbooks and start bidding.

On Sunday, Myrtie Mae Barrett, famous for her fried chicken, showed up at the Save the Ozarks Auction at Caribe. Wearing a an embroidered apron over her dress, Myrtie Mae, as channeled by Sondra Torchia, grabbed the microphone whenever the bidding seemed to flag and reminded people of why they were here.

Well-known Eurekan Myrtie Mae Barrett, wearing orange kitchen gloves and holding a spool cane, exhorts people to bid at the Save the Ozarks auction at Caribe Sunday afternoon. Carly James, right, was the auctioneer for the first auction.

"She's getting mad," said auctioneer Carly James.

James, owner of Eureka Auctions and Market, presided over the first of two public auctions. Two framed photographs by Richard Quick brought the top prices of $225 and $250. A designer watch donated by Faith and Mike Shah of Shah Jewelers went for $185. A folk art painting by Blakeley Wilson brought $160. When a gift certificate for a couples massage and lunch at the Crescent Hotel and Spa went up for bid, Myrtie Mae reminded bidders that she was a single lady.

Silent auction items filled long tables in the back dining room. Among the offerings: a SWEPCO bird feeder by David Petit, seven antique kimono donated by Andre Williams and a turned-wood mallet by Buz Peine. Beau Satori was auctioneer for the second auction, noting with every bid that there is "another SWEPCO pole down." A dinner for eight, prepared by the Crystal Bridges chef, brought in the highest bid, going for $2,600 after sprirted bidding. The Doug Stowe cabinet sold for $600, and a limited edition, signed print by Peter Max for $500.

Items in the silent auction included seven antique kimonos donated by Andre Williams.

More than 300 people paid $10 each to attend the event, organizers reported, which included music and food. The final tally has so far hit $35,000, enough to earn the matching donations totaling $20,000.

Dress code for the event was orange. Faith Shah wore an STO T-shirt autographed by STO supporters and decorated, as were her orange tennis shoes. Lucy Stowe wore an orange dress. Rick Feutz wore an "ASPC Just Say No" tee. Lynn Easton wore her STO shirt pinned to the shoulders of her sleeveless blouse like a cape.

"She is able to leap tall power lines with a single bound," Jay Bender said.

For her appearance as Myrtie Mae, Sondra Torchia added orange rubber gloves and orange ankle socks to her vintage ensemble. Torchia portrays local historic female characters for conventions and meetings, including Myrtie Mae, a cook known for her chicken dinners, for whom the restaurant at the Inn at the Ozarks is named.

"I thought she ought to be here," Torchia said.

The money raised at the event will go for legal costs to stop SWEPCO from obtaining approval of construction of a mega-transmission line across Carroll County. Donations to the Save the Ozarks legal fund can be made at any Community First Bank, thru paypal by clicking here or by mail to STO, P.O. Box 142, Eureka Springs, AR 72632.

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