Good turnout for annual Better Bigfork auction

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More than 200 people gathered at the Garden Bar in Bigfork on Thursday evening for the 19th annual Bigfork Auction benefiting the Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork.

Participants enjoyed free barbecue and drinks while browsing and bidding on hundreds of items and services, all donated by local business for a silent and live auction.

As an unincorporated village, Bigfork relies on the generosity of its citizens and surrounding communities rather than a local government to maintain its small town scene, and Community Foundation President Paul Mutascio said the funds raised Thursday night would go a long way in the upkeep of the community.

Historically, Mutascio said the auction brings in between $25,000-$35,000, but he was hopeful that this year they would break that record.

Money raised through the event will help fund projects like street striping and sweeping, park maintenance, doggy stations, bike racks and more.

This year, Mutascio said part of the funds will go toward completing the new parking lot planned for the downtown area, as well as the expansion of the Bigfork trail systems.

“This is all about us taking care of the greater village of Bigfork and surrounding areas,” said foundation board member Diane Kautzman.

Locals from across the valley filled the outdoor patio Thursday smiling as they greeted friends after a busy summer and sharing in their relief from the hazy weather.

Everything from handmade quilts and afghans to coolers, fishing gear to dog grooming certificates lined the walls and tables of the venue as people strategically bid in the silent auction and enthusiastically raised their numbers as the auctioneer pit one against the other in the live auction.

Former Bigfork postmaster Nick Purchio and his wife perused some of the local artwork in the silent auction, putting their names down in hopes of winning a piece or two.

Purchio said he served as postmaster from 1991 to 2000 before moving away with his wife and three daughters. With his kids now grown and life slowing down in retirement, he said he made the decision to move back to Bigfork from Missoula in May and was looking forward to getting back involved in the community.

“We’re out to support Bigfork,” he said. “It’s good to be back.”

For more information about upcoming projects or to donate to the community foundation at any time, visit

Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or

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