Heritage Happenings draws crowd, raises more than $80,000

Tough economic times didn’t spoil the attitudes of Guild members planning the annual fundraising gala and auction for the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. Heritage Center executive director Bob Patterson said checks are still coming in from patrons who bought auction items or made donations at the event on May 30, but everyone was pleased with the response considering the tough economic times.

“It won’t be as good as last year, but we think we’ll hit between $80,000 and $90,000,” he said.

Money raised at the benefit goes toward education, exhibits and all programming at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.

Patterson was pleased with how well the event went and praised the Guild members for the effort. “I thought it was fantastic. The guild did a fantastic job. They know what they’re doing and go out and do it,” he said.

Because of the economic downturn, some were concerned the volunteers would have a difficult time soliciting donations for the auction and support for the event. Patterson said the guild members had a positive attitude. “Their attitude was wonderful. Instead of worry, they approached it very positively and when they went out, they went out with good attitudes and that made the event a very positive event,” he said. “They didn’t talk like, ‘We don’t know what we’re going to do.’ They had the approach that we’re going to make this work well, and we’re going to have fun.”

Patterson singled out guild president Diane Headrick, auction chair Janet Kolarik and Doris Gorman who helped with the auction and Heritage Happening chair Kathy Enos for their efforts. Patterson said all the guild members spend in a lot of time on the event. “They did a fabulous job,” he said. “There are 21 of them, and they all worked hard.”

Patterson said the number of people who attended was about the same as last year. “Every one was concerned, but we were only a little off last year -- by about a dozen people. So we were very pleased.”

Patterson said the new roof for the amphitheater made it a covered venue, and the silent auction was held there while art items were in the auditorium. “In years past, everything was in the auditorium,” he said. “This made silent auction work much nicer, and they did a beautiful job with the displays. Because of that, the silent auction did extremely well, better than it has since the first one.”

Patterson said the live auction was down but planners weren’t surprised. “Everyone we’ve talked to -- other non-profit -- events says our event did exceptionally well for the times,” he said.

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