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Black Swamp Benefit Makes Big Changes

This year’s Black Swamp Benefit is changing things up.

The event on Saturday, June 15, not only goes to a one-day schedule, it also has moved locations, from the Fulton County Fairgrounds to Archbold High School.

“The fairgrounds were a big project to set up,” said Lora Ripke, board member. “We needed over 100 volunteers just to get ready for the event.”

From moving tables to covering the arena floor to setting up the stage, all were labor intensive. Moving the venue takes many of those needs away.

“This location doesn’t require as much manpower,” Ripke stated. “Also, the new location brings new energy to the event.

“Many of the people who come to the event are elderly, and we also always have a group that comes in the Sunshine van.

“This venue is completely handicap accessible, and all of the parking is paved. We won’t have to worry about the weather, either.

“One year, there was a tornado warning and everybody at the fairgrounds had to take cover. It wasn’t a good situation!”

With new Black Swamp Benefit board members have come new ideas.

“I think only three of us are carryovers on the board,” Ripke said. “The new members have brought energy to the board. The event really needed to be refreshed.

“What attracts people to an auction like this seems to be experiences, like sports tickets, or this year we have a night of live music by a quartet that sings holiday music.

“Last year we had a gentleman donate dinner for six in his home. He was famous (in this area) for his Indian cuisine.

“That went so well that it made lightbulbs go off in the minds of the board members.

“Quilts aren’t going anywhere! They are part of the tradition of the Black Swamp Benefit, going back to when it was the Sunshine Children’s Home Bazaar at Southwyck Mall (in Maumee).

“They are part of what made the event famous, and we’re not getting rid of them.

“Across the board, relief sales and quilt auctions are changing to reflect the way people support organizations.

“We want it to be all about raising money for two amazing organizations (Mennonite Central Committee and Sunshine, Inc.), and doing it as efficiently as we can.”– Pam Graber