A record crowd that proved to be in a generous mood raised nearly $100,000 for Loudoun Hospital Center on Saturday at the fifth annual hospital auction in Middleburg.
The total "is much more than we've ever done before," said Susan Pettibone, hostess of the black-tie event at Homewood, the 200-year-old estate she owns with her husband, John. "We had a bumper crowd."
The money, which will go toward the purchase of the hospital's second diagnostic X-ray machine, was raised from the sale of more than 200 items, private donations and the raffle of a 1991 Honda.
About 400 people, nearly twice last year's crowd, paid $60 each to sample lavish hors d'oeuvres, sip Virginia wines and mingle with such staples of Middleburg society as comedian Dick Smothers, who was the auction's honorary master of ceremonies. The cocktail hour was followed by a roast beef dinner under a 60-by-100-foot tent and a perfect starry sky.
The event featured two auctions, a silent auction during the cocktail hour and a live auction after dinner. For the silent auction, guests wrote down their bids for 171 items and passed them to the auctioneer. For the live auction, they bid openly for more than 50 items under the direction of auctioneer Ben Dollar. Dollar, an employee of the New York office of Sotheby's, a London-based real estate and auction house, came to the event as a guest of the auction's sponsoring committee.
Among the items were a cruise on the Queen Elizabeth 2 and a pair of diamond earrings donated by Dita Emmet, an auction committee member and wife of Loudoun Hospital Board Chairman Grenville T. Emmet. The auction committee received items for bid or donations of money from more than 200 Loudoun County residents and businesses.
Principals of the auction committee were Lisa Ben-Dov, Lillian Griber, Leeda Machnick, Helen Ann Mason, Terri Rosenthal, Lorraine Smothers and Nanette White. The women, who all live in Middleburg, were assisted by 60 volunteers.
Pettibone said preparation for next year's auction has already begun. "To pull off something like this, it takes a whole year and an army of people," she said.