It’s time again for haystack dinners, auctions, music, and vendors, as the 17th Annual Black Swamp Benefit opens Friday, June 15, 4-9 p.m., at the Fulton County Fairgrounds.
Supporting both Sunshine Communities in Maumee and the global Mennonite Central Committee, the benefit will include activities for people of all ages through its conclusion Saturday, June 16, at 1:30 p.m.
Black Swamp Benefit Coordinator Douglas Siebenaler said food will abound, with the event’s traditional haystack dinner and additional choices of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes, pies, and strawberry shortcake.
Adults can participate on Friday in a silent auction for 30 items donated by individuals, businesses, church groups, and organizations. At 9 a.m. Saturday, a main auction will feature wall hangings, wooden items, and 88 premier handmade quilts donated by quilt guilds and by Amish and Mennonite church groups from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.
A Friday evening of cornhole play for a donation will lead to a cornhole tournament Saturday morning. Registration is $20 per team, and can be made prior to the event at the fairgrounds or at bsbcornhole.eventbrite.com.
The family-friendly benefit will also include kids’ games, inflatables, and slushes. At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, a Children’s Auction will be held for items like balls, games, and bicycles. Kids have to be 12 or under and accompanied by a parent to participate.
Saturday will begin with a pancake, egg, and sausage breakfast for a donation, put on by the Knights of Columbus of St. Caspar Catholic Church in Wauseon.
Other attractions include a tent from Ten Thousand Villages in Archbold, selling art items from developing nations across the world; a Home and Garden booth with plants, used books, puzzles, greeting cards, and hand-crafted items; and a “My Coins Count” book in which pocket change can be donated to provide water for families around the world.
There will also be sales of baked goods, homemade noodles, and meats and cheeses.
Music will be provided by a Goshen, Ind., bluegrass band and by individuals from Sunshine Communities.
Siebenaler, who serves as Sunshine’s chief donor relations officer, said the benefit’s proceeds are divided between Sunshine Communities and the Mennonite Central Committee.
Sunshine Communities uses funds to continue building community among people with developmental disabilities by providing dental care, transportation, various therapies, and spiritual life programs. The organization operates residential homes for the developmentally disabled in Wauseon, Archbold, and Delta, as well as a day program offering meaningful activities and vocational training.
Mennonite Central Committee funds people around the world who experience natural disasters or conflicts, helping with those needs in a peaceful manner. The committee has assisted in rebuilding homes and protecting people living among governmental unrest.
“They try to help people be safe as well as give peaceful resolutions,” Siebenaler said.
He said the services the proceeds provide “are very, very important, life-enhancing and community-engaging opportunities, so that these folks can live life in the least restrictive manner and in a full and meaningful way. We are creating a community that is life-changing for these individuals.”
A couple of hundred volunteers keep the Black Swamp Benefit running smoothly.
About 1,000 people visit the benefit, which was preceded by the Sunshine Auxiliary Bazaar and Quilt Auction in Toledo beginning in 1973. The benefit was formed through a volunteer board in 2001.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.