News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Folk Festival fundraiser marks big success

Just a few weeks ago, the Sisters Folk Festival was faced with the possibility of losing its My Own Two Hands fundraiser to the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual event is critical to supporting the Festival’s music education and outreach programming, so the staff came up with a way to move the auction online. And the response exceeded all expectations.

“We blew away our goal, so I’d have to say it was a resounding success,” said SFF Executive Director Crista Munro.

The organization’s stretch goal was $75,000 and the event came in close to $85,000, which will support everything from middle school arts to the American Project Luthier Program and $4,000 in scholarships provided through the Sisters Graduate Resource Organization (GRO). It’s also critical support to an organization whose major event will not be able to go forward in its traditional form in September. The organization is still looking at what an event significantly modified to meet COVID-19 mitigation requirements might look like.

“This year it’s more of a lifeline for the organization,” Munro said.

The online auction of more than 70 pieces of art and other items drew nationwide attention.

“Quite a few of the bidders were quite far away out of Sisters,” Munro said. “It opened up a wider audience for us, and I think people are just looking for ways to support the organizations that are important to them right now.”

The weeklong online auction was supported by a Facebook Live event, and neighborhood tours by local musicians on the Sisters Bandwagon, all in an effort to retain the celebratory element of My Own Two Hands.

The auction wrapped up with a Facebook and Instagram livestreamed drawing for the raffle winner of a custom-made Preston Thompson Guitar. Creative Director Brad Tisdel met with owners and staff from Preston Thompson Guitars at their shop on Main Avenue in Sisters on Saturday evening, where Julie Thomson, the widow of founder Preston Thompson, drew the winning ticket in a raffle that raised over $10,000.

Nora Sweet of Georgia was the winner, and she told the Festival that she planned to give the guitar to her son as a 30th birthday present.

The work is just beginning for Sisters Folk Festival staff.

“Now that this is over, we have a whole week to two weeks ahead of us to meet people for pick up and shipping,” Munro said. “We’ve never really had to ship art before… We’ll be sending art WAY beyond Sisters.”

Munro thanked the many people who bid on art — and urged those whose bids were unsuccessful to pursue the art that they found compelling.

“Get in touch with the artist,” she said. “Have them make something for you.”

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Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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