NOVEMBER 1997 BACK ISSUE
Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 11/1/97; 10:00:00 AM.
Smashing Success For Wishing Star Gallops Fifteenth Year Anniversary
Event Nets An All Time High
For Children's Wishes
In August, the Wishing Star Gallop held in Spokane, Washington netted an all time high - close to $62,000! This event is the largest all-breed Stallion Service Auction of its kind in the Northwest and the number one fund-raising event for the Wishing Star Foundation, a non-profit organization that grants wishes to children with life threatening illnesses. The August 16th event brought over two thousand people to the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds for the fifteenth anniversary of the Gallop. It was another smashing success!
Gallop Coordinator, Barbara Turner credits its success to the "children" of Wishing Star. "This fifteenth year anniversary is different from the years before. There were more serious bidders than spectators in attendance. While on stage, there was a feeling between myself and the audience - that they really understood the purpose of being there. It was clear that it was Wishing Star's mission, and a great opportunity to bid on some of the finest services ever to be auctioned off at this event. The weather couldn't have been better. People were outside viewing the stallions, eating at the American Italian Club Restaurant, touring the commercial booths, or waiting patiently in the stands to witness the next bit of entertainment on the agenda. From the general admission fee to special donations and contributions, all in attendance were supporting these children in one way or another."
The trade show was a shopper's delight! Over thirty booths displayed tack, silver, feed products, horse crafts, custom showring clothes, jewelry, chaps, buckles, bronze & art sculptures, equine insurance, specialty signs & designs, Nikken magnetic products, horse health supplies, a Veterinarian Equine Hospital, horse T-Shirts, sweatshirts, figurines, collectors plates, limited edition prints, Allied Cedar Products, a donated Gazebo, Montana Pride Feeds, LMF Feeds, custom barn builders, livestock panels, western stores, vinyl fencing, discounted horse trailers, Horse Previews magazine, galvanized fence products, stall flooring, training and boarding facilities, Gallop stallion owners, super sweats, and Professional Choice products. The trade show also included one of Gallop's biggest Sponsors and Spokane's best known Country Western Station - KDRK/94FM. From the KDRK booth, live coverage was broadcasted from the event, as their disc jockey - Jim Diamond - commentated on stage with Gallop Coordinator Barbara Turner, and former L.A. Raider, Curt Marsh.
The Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds indoor arena was once again transformed into a breathtaking stage! Arrangements decorated and donated by sponsors Ray & Judy Apfelbaum of "Wildflowers," simulated a fireworks display bursting from above the drape line, and starbursts dropped from the stage to the floor in luxuriant scarlet red, pink, white, and yellow fresh carnations. Green fern with the most beautiful glittering five star cut-out was displayed in each arrangement. Floral bouquets lined the fencing near the audience. Green turf, a tastefully curtained backdrop, floral arrangements, glittered gold stars on center stage, and bright colored stars elegantly decorated the staging area. Twinkling foot lights brought the stage alive as participants danced to the live music being played. Chandeliers hung high from atop the arena with a star twinkling bright right above the center of the stage. So as not to miss anything happening in the arena, the professional touch of two ten foot screens - one on each side of the stage - gave the audience the opportunity to see the live action of the show. Three thirty-foot towers held the spotlights that would highlight each stallion as he passed through the arena. Live music was played throughout the event, and commentators were dressed in tuxedos or glittering diamond gowns as the stallions pranced through the sheer drapes drawn back for their grand entrances.
Every year, a high point happens at this event - something memorable and almost unbelievable - and those attending take that experience home with them. We would have to say one of those highlights this year was the sale of the Wishing Star Big "D" Blankets. The story behind those blankets is nothing short of what Barb Turner calls another "Wishing Star Miracle." Before we tell you the story of the 1997 blankets, let's back up and give credit to owner Glenn Drake, then bring you up to speed.
Since 1990, Glenn Drake, owner of Big "D" Blankets - a business that is ranked number #1 in the world for horse blankets - came up with the idea to make a collector's blanket which would help to make "special" children's dreams a reality. What a great idea on his part, and not simply handing over a sponsor check. This would mean much more work on Big "D" Blanket's part, but Glenn thought it would be something unique. Unique it is! His idea was actually driven from his heart. Anyone in the horse industry can imagine Big "D's" request's for sponsor money, products, and something as unique as what he does for Wishing Star being a common request asked by the tens and twenties each working week. Although overwhelmed with work and other obligations - in his compassion, he knew that tomorrow is uncertain for Wishing Star's children, and without him we couldn't grant the number of "wishes" we do, and we wouldn't make as many dreams come true for our children. He's been stepping up to support us for the past eight years.
These Limited Edition Blankets auctioned off each year are not being offered anywhere else in the United States by Big "D" Products. They are in four colors, with a special design created by an artist locally here in the area - Mr. Tod Locke. This year's black and tan piped blanket sported the Wishing Star Gallop Logo at the front of the chest with gold glittered streamers bursting up and over the blanket horizontally, then descending to the hip of the blanket connecting with white and gold stars. Right in front of the stars was the Wishing Star Logo, a white flying dove holding a star in its mouth. Sitting below the art work in beautifully scripted lettering in bright fuchsia were the words, "Wishing Star Gallop." Every detail to assure the blankets were of value as a collector limited edition blanket was done by Big "D". The left bottom corner reads "Big "D" Limited Edition - the year - and number of blanket, to a two sided blanket design, all with the well noted Big "D" quality workmanship.
Now let us bring you back to the Wishing Star miracle that took place the last twenty four hours before the sale. The blankets were mailed out in advance, but come Friday before the event, they had not arrived. Barbara had been notified Friday, at 5:00 p.m. from the downtown Wishing Star Office that the blankets had not been delivered. With a UPS strike going on, Big "D" sent the blankets in advance through the U.S. Post Office. That strike slowed down all deliveries even through the U.S. Post Office. What could anyone do? They should have arrived Wednesday, but didn't due to the strike. Wishing Star Gallop Coordinator, Barbara Turner had to make the decision to "sell or not sell" the blankets, sight unseen. She felt the risk was too high that they would sell under the price of what they would have - had they been there. She could sell two sets the following year. On Saturday morning, Barb was putting the life-size Aslin-Finch fiberglass horse in the donated Wing's paneled corral. This horse normally wears one of the blankets for display. One of her chairpeople who runs the snack bar asked, "When are you going to put on the collector blanket?" Barb told her the story, and several committee members' mouths dropped in disbelief.
Within the hour, committee members Sandy & Joe Harvey asked if someone would keep a watch on things at the snack bar for they had an errand to run. About an hour later, Barb Turner's name was called out as she walked across the arena, and much to her surprise - as she turned around - there stood Sandy and Joe with three Big "D" boxes in their hands. Everyone's first thought was that they gone out and bought new blankets. Better news yet, those boxes contained the collector's blankets!! It turned out that Sandy worked for the U.S. Postal Service. She had made some calls, located the blankets, and hunted through a warehouse room full of packages from floor to ceiling. The blankets had been sitting there for a couple of days! If not for her "guided" efforts, Wishing Star would have never received them in time.
Suddenly the race was on!! Committee people were assigned to the blankets, working to get them ready for Gallop artist, Tod Locke. Knowingly, Tod was aware that he would only have a couple of days before the auction to complete some last minute detail that had to be done. This detailed work would take a twenty-four hour period for drying. Tod & Barb found themselves with less than seven hours before the auction. Unbelievably, the artist was home when the call was made to come to the fairgrounds immediately - the blankets were waiting there. Under stressful circumstances, with a steady hand that only few could be gifted to posses, the flawless "guided" finishing work was completed. The next obstacle - would they dry in time before they were to be auctioned off? Special places were found for each blanket - somewhere out of the reach of two-thousand people, with lots of ventilation. Would it work? Would they dry in time? At six o'clock, artist Tod Locke checked the blankets and gave the green light, the "guided" decision to put them on the auction block. The show committee finally exhaled and thanked the good Lord as the auction got underway. Was the huge effort and frustration going to pay off?
The first blanket came on the auction block. It sold for $725; the highest selling price in the history of these blankets was $850; the committee was delighted! The second blanket was auctioned off and to everyone's surprise, sold for $1050, a record breaker! Both blankets were purchased by Derald Kuhnhausen of Spokane, WA. Then the third and last blanket was up for bid. Several bidders were on it - at $1800, it slowed down to two bidders. With excitement, thrill, and disbelief, the gavel went down and the auctioneer announced with an elated voice - "sold for $2500!!" The blanket had been purchased by Dave Boles of Mead, WA.
A cardinal rule of auctions - Never stop the flow and rhythm of the sale. However, auctioneer "Butch" Booker stopped the sale, and brought both bidders, (Dave Boles & Derald Kuhnhausen), along with the artist who designed the blankets (Tod Locke), into the arena for pictures. The audience went wild! Who would have ever dreamt the ending results of these blankets would have brought in an all-time high of $4,275 toward the wishes of children with life threatening illnesses?!! A total price higher than any auctioned item! Wishing Star Gallop Coordinator Barb Turner, her committee, and Big "D" owner Glenn Drake, (all of whom followed the story) understood the meaning of the phrase, "God works in mysterious ways."
"It was another Wishing Star miracle. We see them a lot in this line of business," said Barb Turner with a huge smile. "Wishing Star is indebted to this remarkably dedicated man, Mr. Glenn Drake, owner of Big `D' Blankets. We feel very honored and privileged that Mr. Drake's compassion for our cause has given us his continued support."
The 1997 line-up of stallions being offered in the sale this year was very impressive! Stallion services were offered from around the United States. Many were World, National, Congress, Regional, and International Champions. What a delight to see the finest stallions in the world standing! Stalls were decorated like the stallion row at the World Shows. The Stallion Preview Parade was exciting, as always. Along with the spotlights, live music and commentating, it was scintillating to see the finest stallions in today's market offering their services!
Several stallion services sold for over their normal standing fees and some sold for their normal standing fees. Naturally the children were the incentive for many.
All Gallop photographs by Kathy Sauther.