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Spring Gala festivities cultivate city's team spirit

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Estacada Chamber of Commerce fundraiser features dinner, music and auction

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Auctioneers Bob Jones and  Aaron Neldner sell a prize package for the Estacada Timber Festival during the Spring Gala's live auction.

From the spirited live auction to participants connecting with old and new friends, Estacada's Spring Gala held a lot of positive energy.

The evening, organized by the Estacada Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Portland General Electric, Linx Media, Paul Strobel State Farm Insurance, the Aspen Meadow Band, Fearless Brewing Company, Rep. Bill Kennemer and Timber Lake Job Corps, invited participants into the brightly-decorated community center for an evening of dinner, live music and bidding on unique experiences that community members donated.

The event was well attended, with around 100 people packing the community center.

The evening began with live music from the Aspen Meadow Band and complimentary beer and wine, which were followed with dinner by the Timber Lake Job Corps.

The auction, one of the main draws of the night, featured everything from a year of free coffee at the Mason Jar and handmade art to private dinners with chauffer service and a prize package to the Estacada Timber Festival. Participants were generous with their bids, and many donors ended up doubling their initial donations, offering one to each of the top two bidders.ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Andrea Menchaca is triumphant after she and her mother Paulina win an item from the live auction at the Spring Gala on Saturday, April 29.

Bennett Johnson, president of the Estacada Chamber of Commerce, appreciated the event's "wonderful sense of community" and numerous instances of generosity.

"The tremendous outpouring of generosity from people buying things and organizations donating caught me completely unaware," she said.

Many people also enjoyed the auction's sense of friendly competition.

"It was fun watching people bid against each other," Phil Lingelbach commented.

Bob Jones and Aaron Neldner teamed up to act as the evening's auctioneers. Jones noted that it was his first time as an auctioneer, and he enjoyed the role.

"I got to ask for people's money for a good cause," he added, noting that this was his favorite part of the gala.

Others cited the evening's company as a highlight.

"(The best part of tonight was) getting together with the community and seeing people in a different context, in a social environment rather than a business one," Mark Wonser said.

Mayor Sean Drinkwine also enjoyed spending the evening with his fellow Estacadans.

"I've seen faces I haven't seen in years," he said, adding that the Chamber "hit it out of the park" with the night. ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Mary Whitney and Mayor Sean Drinkwine are all smiles at the Estacada Chamber of Commerces Spring Gala. Drinkwine said the Chamber hit it out of the park with the event.

Drinkwine felt the community had been waiting for an event like this "for a long time" and praised the way it brought people together.

"It showed the community we can all be one and come out successfully, and it showed that we work well together," he said. "I think everyone felt like they were a part of something."

Johnson noted that the gala will become an annual event.

"It's an important part of the Chamber being solvent," she said, noting that proceeds would be used to fund the Chamber's young entrepreneur scholarship and market its members.