Rusty Dewees will serve as auctioneer at the 17th annual Festival of Trees — but The Logger will not.
Dewees, best known for his comedic persona as a backwoods Vermonter, said he will not be in character at the Paramount Theatre’s Saturday fundraiser. In fact, Dewees pointed out that he has a background in auctioneering, having worked for several years as the personal assistant to New York auction house owner William Doyle.
“I know the auction business inside out,” said Dewees, who is the event’s first celebrity auctioneer. “I’m not fooling around. This is serious. I’ll be funny, but I know what I’m doing.”
Dewees said he was glad to have a reason to visit Rutland and get on stage at the Paramount.
“I love that theater,” he said.
Other people who love that theater will get the chance to support it this year by bidding on auction items that include sports tickets, furniture, jewelry, vacations around the world, a 19-foot boat and a 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV with a home charging station.
The event combines live and silent auctions. Organizer Laurie Mecier-Brochu said they have added an online bidding platform for the silent auction.
“You can sign up through the Paramount website, see what the items are and make bids right there with your mobile phone or your computer,” she said, noting Wednesday evening that online bidding wars had already begun. “It’s kind of fun to watch.”
Mecier-Brochu said the event raised more than $150,000 last year. Some of that goes to a fund to provide tickets to local youth who might not otherwise ever make it to shows at the Paramount, distributed through organizations like the Boys & Girls Club. The rest, she said, goes to the day-to-day operating expenses, which, despite what people assume, are not covered by the nonprofit’s ticket sales.
“Most of the time, the ticket prices cover the act,” she said. “There are sometimes we make a profit, but most of the time we break even.”
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance at the box office or Saturday night at the door. Food and drink will be available from Roots the Restaurant and Michelle’s Sweet Creations.