CLINTON — The Clinton Sawmill Museum’s ninth-annual fundraiser packed the Tuscany Events Center on Saturday evening, with officials anticipating as much as $40,000 raised.
The fundraiser is the museum’s largest of the year, with proceeds helping to cover regular operational costs of the popular Gateway-area tourist attraction. The contents of the building aim to shed light on Clinton’s proud lumber and logging history, a past that put the city on the map in the 1800s.
Saturday night, as he watched community members and supporters file into the events center, museum Director Matt Parbs couldn’t help but smile.
“Our board has put together a great lineup of things to bid on tonight,” Parbs said. “I think we usually have about 15 live auctions and 75 silent auctions. We’ve got raffles and a great lineup of specialty drinks and food. It’s always a great night for us.”
Parbs said the event in the past has regularly seen roughly $35,000 go toward the museum’s fund, but he said he was confident that the $40,000 mark could be eclipsed.
The community support for the local favorite is largely to thank for those impressive goals, Parbs said.
“I think we’ve got about 160 people here tonight, and that’s huge for us,” Parbs said. “There is about $25,000 worth of donated items in that room right there, and that comes from the generosity of the local business community here in our area.”
The event is “always my favorite night of the year,” Parbs said with a grin, seeing so many community partners band together to ensure a healthy future for the museum. The night gives Parbs a chance to tell the museum’s story, he said, a story that he really doesn’t get tired of telling.
The business relationships formed throughout the vast history of the museum have certainly fueled the fire that pushes the tourist attraction forward, Parbs noted.
“You see a lot of people that are here simply because they want to see the museum grow and continue,” Parbs said. “That’s really, really nice. Just the chance for everyone to talk.”
While it’s always nice to see the community support the museum, Parbs said it’s equally important that the museum return the favor whenever possible. Those relationships aren’t one-way streets.
“It really is a reflection of what I think a museum should be in any community,” Parbs said. “This is a social space for everybody to get together. We all try to realize the importance of quality of life in Clinton, and that affects everybody around the same table.”