‘Bid high and bid often’: Southport Fireman’s Auction breaks record

Sun, 08/20/2023 - 8:45am

    About 250 people turned out for the 30th annual Southport Fireman’s Auction Saturday, Aug. 19. Over 100 registered bidders pushed the total raised to a record $35,328, according to Clayton Pottle, event tallier.

    Fire Chief Gerry Gamage served as auctioneer, perched on the fire station’s roof for maximum visibility. “In all the years of hosting this auction, we have raised over three-quarters of a million dollars, with over half a million dollars going toward equipment purchases.” Gamage keeps the crowd engaged and laughing throughout the auction, including a comment Saturday that not all the money goes to roast beef. “Bid high and bid often,” he said.

    The first item auctioned was a cast iron witch’s cauldron of considerable size and weight, selling for $150. From there, the auction was in full swing, moving rapidly through the donated items. Tables, chairs, dressers, many selling for $10-$25, quickly found buyers. An antique fainting couch sold for $25, a Michael Jackson (not the musician) signed Dogfish Head Brewery sign sold for $200 and a gothic-era bible stand sold for $220.

    At 9:12,12 minutes into the auction, attendees scattered quickly to clear the road as sirens were heard. Gamage apologized for the ill-timed emergency test drill. Laughter erupted as attendees returned with their chairs and the auction resumed.

    The community shared a moment of reflection for the late Ramona Gaudette (Southport Central School cook for 57 years) when two of her handwritten, framed recipes were auctioned.

    Big ticket auctions began at 11 a.m. and included a red sailboat selling for $7,200, a Boston Whaler motorboat selling for $4,200 and a 1996 Harley Davidson Sportster selling for $4,600.

    Breakfast sandwiches and other snacks were sold by SCS with proceeds earmarked for new ice skates and helmets for each student. Principal Lisa Clarke did not have an official tally but said they typically raise $800-$1,000 from the food stand.

    Southport Tide Calendars were for sale for $20, and bags of red mulch were going for $1.50 per bag. Officer Larry Brown was taking orders for the Emergency Sign Program – $20 for a one-sided reflective sign, $25 for double-sided.  

    The annual event is named after Carl C. Pierce, a former assistant fire chief who served as auctioneer in the past. Pierce lived down the hill from the station, was always first to arrive for any call, and his father Cecil Pierce was fire chief, one volunteer told the Boothbay Register.

    “The auction is a good time for the community – very energizing,” said Amy Harkins. The event drew buyers from all over, including Bath, Camden, Farmington, Brunswick, Rockland and out of state.

    Gamage thanked his firefighters, their families, community members, and volunteers for helping. He tossed Southport Fire Department t-shirts to several young attendees from his platform atop the fire station.