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After a two-year hiatus, the Lake Oswego Lobster Feed and Charity Auction returned Saturday night to the Lakewood Center for the Arts.

PHOTOS BY J. BRIAN MONIHAN - Volunteers prepare the lobster dinner meals to be cooked that evening.As with everything that has had to be resurrected after two years of inactivity due to COVID, many of the organizers of this year's Lobster Feed didn't know what to expect.

But after initial attendance projections of 450 guests were exceeded, people were optimistic that the annual event would do as well financially as previous years. What they didn't expect was how well many of the live auction items did or the setting of a new record for donations for the event's special appeal.

Even though the weather didn't fully cooperate and caused a slight 15-minute delay in the cooking of almost 500 lobsters, it didn't deter any of the guests from having a good time and, most importantly, opening their wallets in support of many good causes.More than 500 lobsters were cooked for the 38th Annual Lobster Feed and Charity Auction.

Final attendance was 530 guests according to Andrew Edwards, executive director of the Lakewood Center for the Arts. In total, the event raised $400,000 — the largest amount ever, according to Edwards.

"This is the one of the best ways to usher in summer and it is the largest social event in Lake Oswego. It brings together service organizations, businesses, individuals and people who just enjoy celebrating and supporting the many nonprofits that this event helps," Edwards said. "It also benefits so many in our community and in our region, our state and internationally. We see those dollars at work right here at home with Hunger Fighters and Lakewood Center and Clackamas Women's Services and in scholarships for our students."

Edwards' staff, working in partnership with the Lake Oswego Rotary Club's auction committee, this year led by Pete York, worked tirelessly for the last several months to put on the annual Lobster Feed and Charity Auction.

"It went very, very well," York said. "We had a very enthusiastic crowd."

Items such as dinner with new Oregon State University President Dr. Jayathi Murthy, as well as vacations in Whistler, Mazatlán and Sunriver, all generated significantly higher auction bids than previous years. And even Rotary's Traveling Lobster Show, a party for 24 including lobsters flown in from Maine, sold to six different bidders at $2,700 each and generated $16,200.

But the highlight of the night was the record-setting special appeal in support of the MAIA Impact School in Guatemala.

The school focuses on supporting adolescent girls as young as 12 years old, who are considered adults and are more susceptible to childhood marriage, teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, thus creating a cycle of intergenerational poverty.Weather-weary master lobster chefs Bob Liddell, Matt Chrisman and Wade Byers check the first batch of lobsters cooked on site for the Lobster Feed.

After several rounds of paddle raises starting at the $10,000 level and eventually working down to $100, donations had exceeded $91,000. An inspirational appeal by auctioneer Chris Leach implored the guests to find it within themselves to donate another $9,000. Several bids later, history was made with donations coming in to exceed $100,000 — the most money ever raised for a special appeal in the history of the event.

This was the 38th annual Lobster Feed & Charity Auction. It is organized by Lake Oswego Rotary Club and the Lakewood Center for the Arts. Event proceeds support both the Lakewood Center and the Rotary Foundation which donates to local, regional and international charities.

"After two years of non-in-person events, this was (incredible)," Edwards said.

Holly Bartholomew contributed to this story.

The record setting moment when the final pledges for the Lobster Feed's special appeal, the MAIA Special Impact School, broke $100,000. More than 500 lobsters were cooked in a matter of minutes thanks to volunteers from the Lakeridge lacrosse team.


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