As long as there have been people with things to sell, auctions have provided communities with a tangible venue for public commerce. At the Owl Creek Produce Auction in Waterford, Amish and “English” of all ages gather inside a modest, open-air pavilion to exchange produce and to socialize. To a visitor, the produce auction can seem chaotic, with the fast-paced singing calls of an auctioneer, the hustling of buyers pallet-jacking colorful produce onto trucks and buggies, and farmers running across the auction floor to place bids on multiple products at once. Created to enhance the sustainability of local family farming, Owl Creek draws a diverse community for commerce, tourism, networking, and catching up with one another.
“I think one of the reasons why people come is to have a sense of a time that’s forgotten, of so many things that used to matter.” John Marsh, AVI buyer
“I call auctions spectator sports. People like to come and compete, people like to come and watch. Some like to come and eat the food, some just come and visit–it’s a social event.” Jerry Scott, auctioneer
“There’s a real feel for deep friendships [between the Amish and the English] even though we’re culturally a long ways apart. There’s a certain recognition that we need eachother.” Kelly Brown, manager, Owl Creek Produce Auction
With rows and rows of produce to be sold, auctioneer Larry Moore moves quickly through each lot.
Tourists and locals alike know Owl Creek manager Kelly Brown. Regular buyers who can’t make it to the auction might call Brown to place a bid for them.
Auctioneer Larry Moore must pay close attention to everything going on around him. Once the auction begins, buyers often raise their bids through a slight twitch of the eyebrow or a barely visible nod of the head.