Marcia Patout said she is overcome with the generosity and support of the Teche Area.
“The community is so giving,” she said Tuesday in her office in the Bayou Teche Museum on Main Street in New Iberia.
The museum celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Patout, who has served as the executive director for the last seven years, said the annual “Night at the Museum” gala auction this year was one of the most profitable during her tenure.
“It’s the second-best since I’ve been here,” she said. “I’m just so impressed with the generosity of the community.”
The fundraiser is the only one the museum holds each year. Although grants and other sources support the museum’s capital outlay, like the work on the “Doc” Voorhies wing which is underway now, the museum covers its operating costs from the gala’s receipts.
Part of that comes in the form of ticket sales, but a large part of it is through the various auctions and, for the first time this year, raffles the museum holds in conjunction with the event.
The most lucrative item this year was a week’s stay in a five-room home in Colorado, which went for $11,500. The most visible item was an LSU football helmet which Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow signed. It garnered a $7,100 winning bid.
“One of our board members’ spouse has connections to the staff at LSU, and they were able to work that out,” Patout said. “We weren’t expecting it, but it came in at the last minute. We weren’t even able to include it in our brochure before the event.”
Overall, she said the museum raised almost $70,000 from the live auction the night of the gala and another $9,400 through the first online auction the museum sponsored. The raffle brought in another $4,500.
But Patout said donors to the museum come from all portions of the region, not just those with social and financial connections.
“It’s not just our board members,” she explained. “Pelican’s on the Bayou has been very generous, hosting parties and get-togethers for the museum. We have chefs who donated to cook in-home meals — twice, so we were able to double up on that one.”
There were also first-time donors who were involved in this year’s auction. Himel Marine donated a boat to the effort. Maison Le Rosier was another new contributor, donating a dinner and overnight stay for two at the home in New Iberia.
“So many in our community are so generous,” Patout said. “Wendy Rodrigue has donated art in the past, and donated jewelry for the auction this year. Jerome Weber has done so much, donating art and helping with whatever is needed.”
Not only were the physical donations welcomed, but Patout said the volunteer effort has helped to grow the museum’s reach.
“The volunteers are amazing,” she said. “They came in for two days before the event to train and get everything ready. It’s very humbling to have so many people donating their time en masse.”