Chocolate auction being dedicated to Alice Ann
This year's Chocolate Auction has a special twist. The 17th-annual version of what's become a staple of the Baldwin arts scene is dedicated to the memory of Alice Ann Callahan-Russell, who started the event back in 1988.
Alice Ann died in April, but her legacy to the arts continues.
"I think its a great idea, really, in that she started it," said her husband Tom Russell, a very well known artist. "We brought it back from South Dakota. We were visiting a son and daughter-in-law and they took us to a chocolate auction. We brought it back with us."
The auction has been the Sunday before Valentine's Day for the last 16 years. It brings chocolate creations cooked up by a bevy of local cooks to be auctioned off with the idea that they will be used for Valentine's Day gifts.
Over the years, other items -- most notably, art -- have been added to the mix. Local businesses also donate various gift-type goodies. There is both a silent and live auction and even a kids' table with items priced so even the youngsters can get involved.
"It's a very popular event," said Russell. "The validity of it all is good. It's grown along with the times. The art from various artists is part of the flavor. A lot of Lawrence people have gotten involved with it over the years.
"I've got a piece of art that I've taken out of a show to auction," he said. "Of course, it's in remembrance of Alice Ann."
This year's auction gets underway at 1 p.m. Sunday in the common's area of Baldwin High School. The silent auction and various chocolate and other goodies are available for those in attendance starting at 2 p.m. Then, the live auction begins around 3 p.m. and that's when the action gets interesting.
Among those who will be providing chocolate creations for auction will be Alice Ann's sisters, Mary Jane Chubb and Charlene Potter. They are both thrilled that the auction is being dedicated to their late sister.
"I think it's great. Alice Ann loved the Chocolate Auction," said Chubb, also known as the Pie Lady and who will have chocolate meringue, chocolate creme and French silk pies -- at least. "It was just something she really enjoyed. It went to a good cause -- the arts.
"It's really grown a lot," she said. "It was a very important project for her."
Potter will also be providing her specialty.
"Charlene is the cake maker. She's making a chocolate cake," said Chubb. "Alice Ann always made creme puffs and I told Charlene we'll have to throw them in the mix."
Potter was hard at it Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm working on it," Potter said of the cake and adding that she's so pleased the auction is being dedicated to her sister. "I couldn't be happier. It makes me feel good about it. It was very important to her. She worked very hard on it.
"She was so happy to see how it grew," she said. "It was very special and close to her heart. She loved making creme puffs. She always had her plate of creme puffs. We're trying to create them."
The Chocolate Auction has been a mainstay as a fund-raiser for the Baldwin Community Arts Council, which Alice Ann was also instrumental in starting. BCAC President Christy Carlisle said it was an easy decision to make once the idea was hatched by Ruth Dickinson to honor Alice Ann.
"It was only fitting that we dedicate the Chocolate Auction to Alice Ann for all she did in creating the auction and for helping get the arts council started," said Carlisle. "Who else could we dedicate it to? She has done so much for the council, the community and Baker.
"Some times we forget the history of where we came from," she said. "This is a good year to remember where we started, where we came from. Alice Ann not only promoted art, she lived it and taught it."