HAAW’s First Online Auction Fundraiser

by Júlia Deák

Shortly after the 2021 Christmas market was held at Zsófia and Zsolt Pásztor’s Paradise Farm, their family gifted a beautiful – and large! – set of Zsolnay tableware to HAAW along with a set of champagne glasses and German-made stainless cutlery, items they decided they were no longer going to use and would rather give away in the name of de-cluttering. We were grateful, of course, but many hours were spent discussing what on earth to do with this treasure. Should we list it on eBay to sell to a faraway stranger, or set it out as a raffle item at one of our typically raucous events where kids are running wild and the wine is flowing freely? The items were passed from one board member to another for storage in various garages for over a year. 

When the Property Committee, which is in charge of developing and caring for the 8-acre Hungarian Land property in Cle Elum, asked the board for $10,000 in order to furnish the property with water and electric service, the board decided to try holding an online auction with the Zsolnay items comprising one cornerstone of the Hungarian-themed offerings. The decision was made just in time to accommodate another large donation, boxes and boxes of rare and beautiful Hungarian books from Csaba Hegyváry, who was forced to downsize his library as he moved to a senior living facility. The Pearman family helped remove the books from his house on Mercer Island, and a group of volunteers, including Bernadette Dosa and Anna Gergely of our Seattle Hungarian Library, convened at Katalin Pearman’s house in early January to sort and photograph the books. We limited ourselves to choosing the ten most exquisite sets so that the whole auction would not be all books!

When we spread the word that the auction would be happening, other donations came out of garages and attics. The extensive lace and doily collection had been languishing in the Orbán family’s garage since it was donated by a member who was leaving the country. The truth is that finding new homes for Hungarian cultural items is not easy – not for individuals and not for the association, either. That’s why we are so glad that through this event, we were able to not only raise $6,000 for the development of our property, but also to celebrate Hungarian literary and artistic heritage and help so many culturally significant items find new homes. 

48 participants bid on 98 items, which aside from the donated Hungarian wares included gift certificates from 16 businesses and cultural organizations across Washington state and many “gifts of self” such as home-cooked meals, face painting, sustainability consulting, and a hand-drawn family portrait. We were quite glad to see bids come in from all corners of the state, from Spokane and Albion (pop. 544) near Pullman in the East, to Milton (near Tacoma) and Ronald (pop. 202) near Roslyn and Cle Elum. The benefit of an online auction is that all our members and supporters can participate, even if they cannot come to a live event. 

We hope that this is something we’ll be able to repeat, not only so that all those Hungarian treasures can keep circulating among the hungarophiles in our community, bringing joy to their new owners, but also so that we can keep developing our property throughout the years, either for our own enjoyment or as a way of building equity that we can then put towards a Hungarian house in the city someday.

As summer approaches, keep in mind that Hungarian Land is open to all members! When you can’t find a reservation at your favorite state park, consider camping in Cle Elum instead! It’s near great outdoor adventure areas such as Kachess Lake, the Palouse to Cascades Trail, and the Yakima River. 

Contact information:

  • Address: 681 Golf Course Road, Cle Elum
  • Maintenance & Development Committee:propertygroup@hungarianamerican.org

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