Sharon’s sweetest summer fundraiser takes the cake

Jennie Baird, middle, with her “winning” cake at The Edward in Sharon.

Sava Marinkovic

Sharon’s sweetest summer fundraiser takes the cake

SHARON — Rain could not stop a parade of cakes from being marched to auction at the Sharon Historical Society in the evening of Friday, July 5.

All told, 27 cakes — along with some extras including cake decorating lessons, a bushel of apples, and an heirloom necklace cake-topper — were sold for the benefit of the Historical Society as part of what Executive Director Karen DePauw called the SHS’s most important fundraiser of the year.

At first, prospects for a breezy auction looked bleak as downpour rain and approaching thunder had attendees corralled inside the historic Gay-Hoyt House by order of the Fire Marshal. Still, spirits remained undampened as sweet-toothed visitors browsed the cakes on display, auction paddles tucked into pockets and under arms as they weighed this year’s prospects.

“We had a great response from bakers this year,” said SHS Project Coordinator & Registrar Myra Plescia, “and some incredible first-time bakers.” Her own contribution, however, was a bit unorthodox. “I like to call myself a nonconformist,” smiled Plescia, showing off her rustic pumpkin seed bread, “but really I’m just better at bread.”

Before long, the rain abated and the crowd was released in priority waves that, naturally, saw the bartenders as the first returned to their critical stations in the auction tent. Organizers followed, then visitors.

Finally, Cake #1, Peggy McEnroe and Mo Dore’s “Chocolate Whimsey,” arrived on the block.

“You all have to stay focused,” called SHS President and acting auctioneer Chris Robinson, stoking the crowd as the cake was placed, “we expect a record this evening.”

The lot’s first paddle went up for a cry of $40 — the final for over $400. From there, it was a torrent of cakes.

Amid rising bid calls, murmurs, oohs, and aahs, Sharon baker Jennie Baird explained her take on the auction. “Of course it’s a competition,” she said, grinning, “but I’m not just trying to beat everyone else, I’m trying to beat myself.” She hoped her Magic Mushroom Cake—an elaborately decorated vanilla cake advertising chocolate buttercream frosting, custard filling, homemade marzipan, and the promise of a “psychedelic surprise inside”—would outperform her previous take at a garden-themed carrot cake. Paddles shot up throughout the tent for Baird’s kaleidoscopic cake from $50, $100, $200; quickly to $1,000 and the outbreak of cheers. Eventually came the cry of “Sold!” for $1,800 — if this were a competition, good enough for the win.

In celebration, Baird unveiled a second copy of the prize cake to share with friends and family. “It’s really a shame,” she said, doling out slices peaked with marzipan mushrooms, “that more people don’t like carrot cake.”

Currently on exhibit at the Sharon Historical Society & Museum is “Creating an Oasis at Wethersfield: Mrs. Poehler and Mr. Stillman,” a partnership with Wethersfield Estate and Garden that tracks the career and influence of Sharon landscape architect Evelyn Poehler. Cocktails at the Wethersfield, in Amenia, New York, will be hosted by the SHS on Aug. 3.

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