Big crowds attended fundraising events in Owatonna Saturday despite the inclement weather, or possibly because of it. The Owatonna High School gym was packed for the 40th annual Young Life cake auction. Later in the day big turnout was seen at St. Mary's School for its annual Night of Knights auction. The Big Brothers / Big Sisters bowl for kids' sake was also held.

I have noticed some years where the crowd at the cake auction seemed to dwindle toward the end when nice weather drew people to spend some weekend time outdoors. That was not the case Saturday as the winter storm warning rose to a blizzard warning during the early stages of the cake auction. The crowd stayed strong throughout the event.

The live auction featured some spirited battles between bidders for concert tickets, summer get-a-ways and a homemade shuffle board table. Owatonna's retired Young Life director Chuck Jamison appeared as a color commentator to introduce the cakes and specials. New director Lindsay Thompson reported that the first ever online auction went over well with several items drawing bids.

The winter weather was a topic throughout the day when I mingled with people. A number of auction items made us long for spring weather. Specials included a children's bike, a lawn mower and an inflatable pontoon. Many cakes are works of art including the stack of edible money and Instant Pot cake that is totally consumable down to the 'knife' and 'cutting board.'

Even with many bidders on site, the phone banks were busy throughout the auction with callers who elected not to brave the weather or were calling from out-of-town. The children's area was moved out of the gym this year into the commons area and expanded. Large groups of children played games and did artwork.

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