Serenating dueling pianos and backed by a barbecue, Emporia Main Street welcomed a sold-out crowd for its public improvement auction at the Granada Theater on Friday night and brought in a total gross of just over 20,000 $ in the process.
This year marked the first time that Emporia Main Street combined its event with live performances, with the organization bringing in HiFi Productions to perform while Bobby D’s Merchant Street served.
In addition, attendees had the opportunity to bid in a silent auction, a live auction and a dessert auction.
Past auctions have funded projects such as the lighting of the Farmer’s Market lot, the creation of a historic district, and sculptures. This year, the money raised will be used to fund new Emporia Main Street businesses.
“We have innovative support and funding programs for entrepreneurs who are online,” said Casey Woods, executive director of Emporia Main Street. “We have the ‘manufacturing lab’ with our manager starting Monday, so there’s a range of different prototyping things we’ll be doing to help existing companies diversify their product lines and also help entrepreneurs prototype new new products or services. And then there’s an educational component where we can expose people to technology who will hopefully become students at Flint Hills Technical College or Emporia State or work for local industries.
Woods said there are also “a variety of different pieces of infrastructure that we need to update” as the city looks to host larger events again.
Emporia Main Street hasn’t set a fundraising goal for the auction, as it typically won’t set one if it changes more than two items from a previous year’s event. Woods said this year’s event featured eight different elements, including live music.
“We haven’t been able to do a live auction for two years so we wanted to do something different and we started talking about what Main Street was for people and we’re generally a group ‘work hard, play hard,'” Woods says. “We wanted to add something new and fun to the event that went beyond ‘let’s have a meeting and people show up and get super formal and stuffy’ because that’s not what we are. as a group.”
He said Emporia Main Street chose a piano dueling show because of its interactive and fun nature and because he and his team thought it would draw a crowd.
“We were right,” he said. “We have a ton of people showing up to this event and we’ve had a lot of people expressing an interest in getting involved.”
And while there was no fundraising goal, Emporia Main Street did set an attendance goal, which was to sell out the dinner. This goal was achieved a week and a half before the event.
Woods encouraged people to head to emporiamainstreet.com because the organization has “several events and support mechanisms that will be going live.”
“Our board said as soon as we saw an increase in vaccinations and a decrease in the total number of cases, our orders were, ‘Hit the gas and let’s go,’ he said.” I think this is going to be an exciting year for the region and we are excited to go full board to get our economy back where it needs to be.”