Festival Days celebrants again get the chance to support students and the local university while participating in a unique event — the Northern Alumni Association auction.
“It’s fast and furious, and it’s a blast,” Alumni Association Director Autumn Elliott said.
All of the proceeds — Elliott said typically $13,000-$20,000 — go to fund scholarships to Montana State University-Northern.
“All that goes back to student scholarships,” Elliott said.
The auction itself is, to say the least, unique.
Northern athletes stand by the tables at the event, this year in the Armory Gymnasium, holding numbered paddles. The auctioneer sets a timer before each item is auctioned — items are donated by businesses, local residents and alumni — with none of the attendees knowing what time is set for each item.
Once the timer starts, people can bid by giving an athlete by their table a dollar, the athlete raises the numbered paddle and the auctioneer starts calling out numbers from raised paddles.
The paddle stays up until its number is called, then the athlete lowers the paddle. If the bidder wants to continue, it costs another dollar to have the paddle again raised.
The last number called before the timer goes off indicates the winning bidder.
Elliott said different rules are put in for some of the events — the association might limit who can bid by gender or hair color, or set other specific rules, with a goal of giving everyone a chance to win an item — and the bidders get a little wild at times, maybe holding athletes on their shoulders to make them more visible.
“It gets pretty competitive,” she said.
The doors at the Armory Gymnasium will open for the event at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, with tickets costing $20.
The event includes a no-host bar sponsored by the Gallery Lounge, the Taco John’s taco cart will serve tacos at 5:30 p.m., and the auction itself starts at 6 p.m.