The Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department has announced that their 2020 auction has been cancelled. The department cited health and safety concerns amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

The auction has been held at the firehouse each July since 1973, originally as a way to recoup the cost of the department’s building, which had been erected that year. The famous Vermont auctioneer and Pawlet native Bus Mars took to the block, and items donated by the community were sold to the highest bidder. The auction has been much the same as the years have passed, held in recent years under a large tent in the firehouse parking lot, with Bus’s son Chriss Mars presiding. An overflow crowd and a robust food concession lends the auction a carnival-like atmosphere, and generous donations and spirited bidding always make for an exciting event.

Covid-19 stopped plans for the 2020 auction in its tracks. The department could not come up with a way to operate the auction while complying with social distancing and other health and safety requirements. “The safety of this community is the whole point of our organization,” said Jon Weiss, PVFD Chief. “Holding an event that puts people at risk just doesn’t square with our mission.” 

Cancelling the auction deprives Pawlet of a summer highlight, but it is also a significant financial hit to the fire department. The 2019 auction raised over $9,000, representing 12% of the department budget overall. “It’s always our biggest fundraising event,” said Fran Powers, PVFD Treasurer. The department has put plans to replace a fire apparatus on hold as it grapples with the loss of an important source of funding. “We will have to tighten the belt for a while,” said Chief Weiss, “but we have always enjoyed robust support from our community, so I am confident we’ll find a way forward.”

The auction will be back in 2021, better than ever, and we look forward to seeing you then. If you wish to support your fire department directly, please click here.