Area restaurants’ specialty foods will fuel fun at Oaklawn Benefit Auction

What may be one of the biggest, happiest, friendliest “food fights” in the community’s history is about to break out.

Several eating establishments from throughout the Marshall and Battle Creek region are putting their top recipes forward and will share their signature appetizers and “finger foods” with participants at the 24th Annual Oaklawn Hospital Benefit Auction.

“We’ve got a ‘March Madness’ theme, so we wanted the auction to feel like getting together with all of your friends to enjoy the game,” said Ryan Traver, chairman of this year’s auction. “Having a lot of different, terrific food is always a big part of that.”

During the fund-raiser, live basketball will be shown on big-screen monitors, and participants can join in a variety of sports-themed games. The doors of the Marshall Activity Center at 15325 W. Michigan Ave. will open at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22, and the fun will start at 7 p.m.

“All the food is going to be the restaurants’ best stuff, so how can anyone go wrong?” said Traver. “It’s all going to be good, because everyone is joining in to have fun and support the hospital.

“We expect all the food will be gone before we turn out the lights. We always have such a great turnout for this event,” he said.

The broad range of food samplings will be provided by Schuler’s, Louie’s Bakery, Rollo’s Mancino’s, Broadway Grille, Zarzuela’s, Warman’s Party Store and Oaklawn Hospital’s dietary department, all of Marshall, as well as Pasche’s Seafood Kitchen and Redline BBQ Smokehouse & Catering of Battle Creek, said Catherine Yates, the auction’s co-chair.

“It’s a good hospital,” said Zarzuela’s owner Richard Kane. “It’s taken good care of my family and me. I think it needs our support as part of this community.”

“Oaklawn is vital to the health and well-being of Marshall,” said Jason LaForge, owner of Louie’s Bakery. He added that his establishment is backing the event as part of its ongoing efforts to provide support to the community.

“Our food committee has fantastic taste,” Yates said, “and they’ve been working hard to make sure there will be plenty of treats worth sharing.” Yates is vice president of Chemical Bank in Marshall and Traver owns BluFish Consulting in Marshall.

Tickets will be available at the door for a $45 donation per person, $25 of which is tax-deductible.  Information about obtaining tickets in advance may be obtained by contacting Theresa Shippell at (269) 789-3942 ortshippell@oaklawnhospital.com.

Several special offerings will highlight the evening, Traver said.

“We’re created the coolest raffle package – a Tailgater portable satellite antenna system,” Traver said. “It’s a signal receptor for DISH customers, and it brings in high-definition television reception anywhere in the 48 contiguous United States. It was donated by HBC Contracting in Lansing.

“The winner will get an ultra-quiet Honda generator and a 32-inch JVC high-definition receiver with a built-in DVD player,” Traver said. “So you can watch whatever you like no matter where you go.”

The electronic bidding system established at past benefit auctions has streamlined the auction process, organizers said.

“More than 50 tables will cover the auction floor,” Yates said, “so being able to bid on your favorite items with your own mobile device will make everything go quickly and easily.” Area businesses and individuals have donated hundreds of items, including dinners, appliances, specialty products, services, gift certificates, trips, vacation packages and show tickets.

“Drew Stanton of the Arizona Cardinals football team also helped us put together another donation — two tickets to a home game for the Cardinals, along with hotel stay,” Traver said. The package includes access to the team walk-through at the University of Phoenix Stadium before the game, and passes to the family area after the game. BluFish also will donate a $400 Visa gift card for the winning bidder to use on flights or for spending money in Arizona.

Other sports-themed donations include a Detroit Tigers 2012 World Series street banner as well as signed memorabilia from such sports figures as Troy Aikman, Marshall Faulk, Carlton Fisk, Tony Hawk, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Joe Montana, Cal Ripken Jr., John Smoltz and Dick Vitale.

Information about the auction and its associated details – including a catalog of items being offered – is being updated online at oaklawnhospital.org/auction.