Photos and Article By Ida Hoffmann-Randall
On a sunny, summer-like afternoon around 1,000 people gathered for fun, fellowship and a quilt auction at the 45th annual Friends Foundation Festival and Auction, held for the first time at Boone Monument Village.
Held October 8, this event raised money to assist those with developmental disabilities, as well as raise awareness, in the greater Warren County and Franklin County areas.
“Being with everybody and seeing all the people who come [is the best part of today]. This community is the most giving community I know… They truly help make a difference,” event organizer Mary Fischer said.
The event featured booths from a variety of organizations, a kid’s area (including a faux-cow milking experience), homemade ice cream, a silent auction, historic home tours, equestrian and martial arts demonstrations, and – of course – the traditional quilt auction.
“I used to buy quilts with my mom, but she is not here anymore, so when a friend told me about this event, I decided to come out,” attendee Heidi Wunderlich said.
The focal point of the event, for many, is the live auction, which this year featured 49 quilts, a handmade outdoor nativity set, a time share week in Branson and a hand-made coffee table. According to The Friends Foundation President, Lynne Unnerstall, so many quilts were donated this year, some had to be held in reserve for next year’s event, for the sake of time.
“All the quilts are donated, primarily by churches but some by individuals… The UCC has always been very supportive of Emmaus, the Friends Foundation and the disabled community as a whole,” Unnerstall said.
But, she added, the festival is not just about the quilts–which are donated from several different states–or the fundraising.
“We are big in tradition. This is a great way for the community to get together and support adults with disabilities. Here in this beautiful setting, people get together and bond,” Unnerstall said.
Due to the closing of the Emmaus Homes’ Marthasville Campus, The Friends Foundation utilized a new venue this year, Boone Monument Village. While this posed some logistical challenges, as organizers said any major move is apt to do, most seemed to enjoy the change in scenery.
“The nice weather, a good cause to support, and a pretty setting brought me out today,” attendee Marie Hollenbeck said.
For many, this event is an annual tradition. Dennis and Billie Kramme helped found the event, and have been working with the Festival in some capacity for many years. “The fellowship of the people coming together to support those with developmental disabilities in this community is amazing. There are so many volunteers who have helped with the event for over 30 years. It’s such a fun group to work together with for a common goal,” Kramme said.
This year’s event kicked off with a new activity, a fundraising dinner hosted at Lake Creek Winery the Thursday before the festival. Alone, this dinner raised over $1,000 dollars.
“This event helps to create an awareness of people with developmental disabilities and their needs. The money we raise goes to help individuals, with what they need in their homes or to assist with daily life, as well as organizations like Special Olympics and Exceptional Equestrians,” Fischer said.
The festival was formerly sponsored by Friends of Emmaus. This organization recently went through a transformation, becoming The Friends Foundation. Organizers said this change, necessitated due to Emmaus closing the Marthasville campus, allowed the group to reevaluate their charter and expand their services to help more people in the community.
“It’s bittersweet, being the first year not on the Emmaus campus, but we knew we had to find a new location, and still keep the event outside… Yet, this change lets us expand, and it feels good to be able to help more people,” Unnerstall said.
Overall, the quilt auction raised $12,755.00, an increase over last year’s auction, with the first quilt bringing $500.
For more information on The Friends Foundation, contact Mary Fischer at 636-561-7747, or write to The Friends Foundation, PO Box 62, Marthasville, MO 63357.