9.22.2014

"Barn Again", Tennessen Farm Fundraiser, Catawba, WI (pop. 108)

Imagine for a moment that your family has owned a farm in roughly the middle of Wisconsin for almost 100 years. During this farm's lifetime, a barn was built on it in 1936. That's 78 years ago now - do you even know anyone older than that? Well, as sometimes happens to barns, about 16 years ago this barn was in disrepair after a storm and rather than tear it down, the decision was made to rebuild it with the help of the community, through a fundraising event now known as "Barn Again". The farm would host a pot-luck event, get some drinks, offer hay rides, a bonfire, some local entertainment, and an evening of fun raffling with both silent and tin-can raffles. Don't know what a tin-can raffle is? Keep reading.



As you may have noticed, the barn is standing and in good condition. So why do they still host the fundraiser now? Well, they use the funds from the event to give scholarships to one male and one female high school graduate each year. They have helped many local students with their education. and what a great way to keep this cool event going. 

 Much to my delight, there is a schedule to the evening, and they stuck to it like clock work...

Once we had procured some tin-can raffle tickets, we then found drinks and the appetizer table. There were some really great apps, and everything was brought in from the community. We realized one half of the first floor of the barn was set-up with the silent auction items, and the other half was set-up with the tin-can raffle items. 



A tin-can raffle is like a silent auction, but different. You place your raffle tickets in tin-cans sitting next to the item you'd like to win. If a lot of people put their tickets in, your chances go down... unless you stuff all your raffle tickets into one can. It was a unique way to raffle items and also fairly self-serve, so the Tennessen family could mingle with guests and make sure everything else was running smoothly. Here, it looks like this...

Once people have had a chance to get drinks, mingle, have an appetizer, and according to the schedule, we are then invited to the second floor of the barn for a sit-down pot luck dinner. Though if someone had asked me point-blank if barns had more than on floor, I might have said "yes". However, I was not prepared for how nice and spacious this barn's second floor is. It looks a lot like the inside of a church, in my opinion, though not usually made with such nice materials. Don't believe me? Have a look at our "dining room" for the night...




So, you fill your plate with small portions from dozens of dinner items. Then, once you're stuffed, you fill a smaller plate with dessert items. Everything was delicious. After dinner, a north woods based barbershop chorus provided entertainment for all. Though no one would call their songs "current music" selections, the ones they chose showcased their musical talents and seemed to fit the audience perfectly (a lot of 50's classics). Everyone seemed to enjoy their performance a great deal. I believe they are officially known as the Lakeland Barbershop Chorus... ah, yes, that's what the schedule above lists them as...

After dinner and dessert, and the second portion of the chorus' program for the evening, our hosts got to the good stuff - who won the raffles?! This roll-call of winners didn't take too long, which was good because about 8:45pm a loud crack of thunder was heard by all and the rain started to come down. Cool winds began whipping around this 2nd floor of the barn and people began to speed everything up. 

I went home with a great sense of WI community, an appreciation for the Tennessen family, a unique look at American farm life, a great view of a classic barn, a very full belly, and a pair of handmade book ends, from the tin-can raffle item pictured above. I didn't want the Farve books (Da Bears!), so I gave them back to the Tennessen family to divvy up.

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