Meadville Tribune

Local News

September 3, 2013

Lively baked goods auction helps kick off Spartansburg Fair

SPARTANSBURG — So it comes to the end of Monday’s Baked Goods Auction on the stage at the 92nd Spartansburg Fair. It’s standing-room only. Lots of people have been bidding — including the auctioneer, who personally won a hotly-contested battle for slicing rights to a chocolate cake that captured a coveted first place specialty honor, but that’s an exposé for another day — and lots of people have been buying.

But while a number of successful bidders headed home with an armful of goodies, two men seated off to one side near the stage were buying a lot. More of a trailerful than an armful, in fact.

The fair officially opened Monday at 1 p.m. at the fairgrounds off Spartansburg’s Jefferson Street; by late afternoon, Director Sunny Blakeslee was reporting that attendance was looking good, even though there’d been some rain in the area earlier in the day. At 5:30 p.m., it was standing-room only in the stage area for the annual answer to that immortal question, “What happens to the rest of all those baked goodies after the single piece that remains on display throughout the fair has been placed on its little plate and carefully covered with plastic wrap?”

In a word, dear readers, “auction.”

Once the judging is complete and a representative sample of each entry has been placed on “permanent” display, the pies, cakes, breads, donuts, cookies and candies (peanut butter fudge seemed to have been quite popular this year) with their single pieces carefully removed are transported to the stage, where they are gathered in impromptu groups of two or three usually totally unrelated items and auctioned to the highest bidder. The proceeds of the sale benefits the fair’s Baked Goods Department.

“You know you want them,” auctioneer Tom Hennigh of Canadohta Lake taunted the hesitant as plates, bags and pans of sweet and savory treats were artfully waved before the audience by volunteers eager to exchange goodies for cash.

But what, you ask, of the guys in the first rows off the edge of stage right?

With the stage emptied and the auction about to come to a close, vendor Dick Horstman, owner of Horstman’s Fine Foods, won the most hotly-contested race of the evening, forking over $45 for the fair’s first-place peach pie. As the treasured pie was added to his already-expansive collection, Horstman explained that he and Allen Bartlebaugh, owner of the State College-based Bartlebaugh Amusements, had been bidding, as they bid every year, with a single goal in mind.

“We try to make sure nothing goes for just the minimum bid — or without a bid,” Horstman said with a conspiratorial grin as Horstman and Bartlebaugh prepared to transport roughly 50 baked goods to their next destination.

As for the fate of the goodies, Horstman noted that he’s in the food business, although the peach pie will be added to his private stock.

“I have 30 people working for me,” Bartlebaugh said of his pile of purchases. “It’ll get eaten fast.”

Although their purchases were, well, eclectic, Bartlebaugh confessed that his personal weakness is pie. “There is no bad pie. Some just aren’t quite as good as others,” he explained. “Dick’s wife likes angel food cake,” he continued, pointing out that a number of cakes meeting that description had been included in the Horstman collection.

The bottom line: They’ve seen a lot of fairs but Spartansburg is special — and they love helping to contribute to its success, Horstman and Bartlebaugh agreed.

Following the auction, the stage area once again filled for the 6:30 p.m. bike giveaway as participants in the 8 p.m. presentation of contestants and crowning of the 2013 Spartansburg Fair Queen and Princess began to gather.

The fair continues through Saturday, when the grand finale fireworks are scheduled to begin at 11:15 p.m.

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