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THOUSANDS DRAWN TO AID LOCAL AMISH

Lot No. 1, a plastic pig in a handmade wrought iron cage, fetched two winning bids -- and $4,400 -- at the first Amish Relief auction held Saturday in Cherry Creek.

Exactly how much more was raised at the auction, held to pay the outstanding medical bills incurred by children in the Amish community around Conewango Valley, remained uncertain Tuesday.

Auctioneer Don Yahn said staff at the Empire Livestock market, where the auction was held, are still counting the proceeds.

"There is no set figure at this point and I'm not sure they (the Amish organizers) are going to make it public," he said. "They've got their reasons why this is not going to be publicized."

Before the event, organizers said they had at least $700,000 in unpaid medical bills, but that they didn't expect to raise that much in the auction.

"It was a great sale," Yahn said. "Things brought a lot of money. As I opened the sale, you could tell people were in a buying mood. They were ready for this. Stuff sold and was well received."

Crowd estimates ranged between 3,000 and 5,000. "We gave out over 1,500 buyers numbers, and often times, you double that and that's your crowd. Talking with a state police trooper later in the day, he thought maybe as high as 5,000."

Along with the plastic pig in a cage, the other lot that fetched an impressive price was one that gave the winner the choice of two cherry trees from blacksmith Adam Raber's woods.

"They brought close to $7,000," said Joan Cullen with the Bank of Cattaraugus, which helped publicize the event.

Cullen said the Amish she talked to seemed pleased with the prices the items were fetching.

"It was a fun day," she said.

Yahn said the quilts, furniture, baked goods and other handmade items that were auctioned off are good representations of the items sold by Amish craftspeople throughout the Conewango Valley area in small shops next to their homes.

e-mail: jbonfatti@buffnews.com

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