Heidi Dugal, Chris Howard and Timothy Rougeau going through award winners at the pie auction on Thursday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — It took a little time for the bidders at the Oh Be Thankful Pie & Dessert Auction on Tuesday to find their groove.
After all, it's been two years since the students and staff at Gabriel Abbott Memorial School in Florida have whipped up delectable desserts designed to entice community members to part with their dough.
But after a few desserts going for $10 or $15, the American Legion Hall was entertained with some serious and spirited bidding as Principal Martin McEvoy and Terry Culpepper-Rysz vied for a molasses spice cake.
Sitting on opposite sides of the room, the two bidders quickly eliminated the competition as auctioneer Chris Howard, the school's physical education teacher, pointed back and forth.
McEvoy emerged the victor with a $100 bid for the decorative cake made by Jennifer Robbins.
"I got a very lovely cake," said McEvoy. "It was all for a good cause."
That wasn't the top bid though. That honor went to a $140 raspberry cheesecake pie made by the school's retired principal, Heidi Dugal, whose desserts frequently claim top dollar at the benefit event.
It was Dugal who started the sweet festivities nearly 22 years ago as a community service project. It's now part of the school's Project 351 program.
Howard was the coordinator this year, working with teacher Timothy Rougeau and the school's Project 351 Ambassador, eighth-grader Lael Pavlak.
She had been a little worried how the event would go after two years of cancellation because of the pandemic but pleased with the outcome.
"We had a good turnout, less pies than normal but we had great bidding," Howard said. "We made some nice money."
There were 17 desserts ranging from cookies to pies to the two-layer cake, about half what the auction normally offered. But they pulled in $790 in bids, plus there was a 50/50 raffle and a chinese auction with donated products and gift certificates.
Proceeds from this year's auction will help the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry and the Berkshire Humane Society, plus donations to the American Legion's Christmas dinner.
There were two of each donated dessert, one for sampling and judging and one for auctioning. Several were made at the school by students.
Multiple judges gave their stamp of approval on almost every dessert, with Dugal taking at least a half-dozen ribbons.
"I was very impressed," said McEvoy, commenting on his first pie auction as principal. "I was very grateful for the community coming out and raising money for a good cause, and the array of delicious desserts and the presentation and the taste was superlative."
He said he couldn't wait to take his cake home and share it with his wife.
Howard said she would've have liked to see more pies but was pleased with the amount of money raised.
"Hopefully it's going to grow from here, now that we're back, now that people know we're back," she said.
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