BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale will celebrate its 60th year Friday and Saturday the way people have become accustomed to enjoying it — with plenty of food, quilts, other hand-crafted items and a major auction, all to help the relief efforts of the Mennonite Central Committee.
“Never did we dream it would become as extensive as it's become,” said Ruthie Roth, who has been involved since the very first sale in 1959 in Congerville, where her late husband, Don Roth, was in charge of the auction. “With God, all things are possible."
The sale and auction will be at the Interstate Center, 2301 W. Market St., Bloomington. Admission and parking are free.
Friday's activities will start at 4:30 p.m. with dinner. A half chicken or two fish filets are $10; a quarter chicken or one fish fillet is $8. The meal comes with sides and fresh homemade fruit pie for dessert.
Saturday's pancake and sausage breakfast will begin at 6 a.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children.
More than 2,000 pounds of whole-hog sausage is seasoned, ground and stuffed for the breakfast and for sale in the Butcher Shoppe.
About 2,200 barbecued chicken dinners, 2,200 fish dinners and 2,200 breakfast usually are served, according to Roth, executive secretary of the relief sale.
“You can come and enjoy a wonderful evening and Saturday and know that you are helping others to get food, clothing and medicine,” said Roth.
A major attraction of the relief sale every year is the auction. Each year about 100 quilts, comforters and wall hangings are part of the auction.
This year a king-sized quilt, commemorating the 60th year of the sale, will be auctioned. It is done in the royal blue and white colors of the Illinois sale and features the Illinois sale logo in the center with a heart symbolizing love and compassion for the needy, Roth said.
Another featured quilt, donated by the 2018 Illinois Relief Sale Board, is titled “The Journey.” Pieced by hand, it includes small squares referencing the many individuals who dedicated hundreds of hours to create it and butterflies representing “moments in life that are treasured and God moments that hold us and encourage us through our daily life,” according to the description provided.
The Friday night auction will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the quilt auction beginning at 7:45 p.m.
Saturday's Grand Auction will begin at 8:30 a.m. with quilts auctioned at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Amish furniture constructed in Arthur also will be part of the auction, as will theme baskets, tools and toys.
Hundreds of volunteers are involved, from those making and donating quilts and other items to those preparing and serving food to the auctioneers and those working in various booths.
In addition to Friday's dinner and Saturday's breakfast, people also will be able to enjoy butterfly pork chops, barbecue, rib-eye steaks, pork burgers and hot dogs both days.
Beyond the auction items, there will be specialty booths with arts and crafts, needlework, baby items, flowers and books.
The Pennsylvania Dutch Market includes many kinds of pies, homemade bread, noodles, cakes, jams and jellies, cheeses and dried fruit.
Eighty percent of the net proceeds from the sale go to the Mennonite Central Committee.
“The MCC helps in 56 countries around the world plus the United States,” said Roth. “If we have a calamity in America, whether it's an earthquake or hurricane or something else, Mennonite Disaster Services goes there to help.”
The other 20 percent of the proceeds stay in Central Illinois, helping such charities as The Salvation Army in Bloomington, Peoria and Pekin; Bloomington Home Sweet Home Ministries; Peoria Rescue Mission; the Midwest Food Bank and other food pantries.