NEOSHO, Mo. — Forget Black Friday.

Tuesday's annual Festival of Wreaths, the annual fundraiser for the Crowder College Foundation, represents a chance to get an early jump on Christmas shopping.

Nearly 550 items will be up for grabs — more than 500 of them in the silent auction and around 40 items in the live auction.

“Part of the appeal of the Festival of Wreaths is the high-end merchandise but also gifts in the $10 range,” said Haley Reardon, assistant director of resource development and alumni relations for Crowder College. “We try to have a little something for everyone … so people from all walks of life can participate and enjoy the night.”

Notable items — ranging from a Murray riding lawn mower and a cedar swing to a La-Z-Boy recliner and Citizen watches — will be up for auction in the Elsie Plaster Community College on Crowder’s campus, 601 Laclede Ave. While holiday wreaths and decor — 30 to 40 pieces total — will always be the mainstay of Festival of Wreaths, Reardon said, additional auction merchandise will include gift baskets, sports apparel, outdoor equipment, electronics and household items, as well as a “wall of cards” filled with gift cards ranging from $10 to $500.

The festival’s silent auction begins at 5 p.m., with the live auction at 6:30 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres will be served from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Last year’s event raised $126,000, which is used to fund 40 to 50 scholarships for Crowder students.

“This year we hope to excel and reach beyond that mark this year,” Reardon said.

New for this year’s festival is the raffling of a Lowe fishing boat, donated by Marine Center of Joplin. It’s a change-up from the last few years, when a new car was the prize.

Raffle tickets are $25 per person, and the winner will be drawn Tuesday night. A few extra raffle tickets will be available at the start of the festival.

An automated bidding service will be used during the auction; a smartphone is required to bid. Those who attend the auction are encouraged to bring a fully charged smartphone, but for those who do not have a smartphone or who need help placing bids, assistants will be on hand. Bidders have the freedom to move about the venue during the event, Reardon said, and the technology eliminates the need to hover over items as bidders receive text messages when they get outbid.

About 400 people are expected to attend this year’s festival.

“At the end of the day,” Reardon said, “every single dollar (raised) touches a student directly … and makes a difference in their lives.”

Registration

Those attending Crowder College Foundation's annual Festival of Wreaths are encouraged to preregister for the auction at 501auctions.com/festivalofwreaths. All items up for auction may be viewed on that site.

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