GREENFIELD — The steak and cash were free flowing at last weekend’s popular Steak ‘n Bake ‘n Raffle event, held Saturday at the Hancock County Fairgrounds.
Enough raffle tickets were sold to stretch across the venue several times over, as diners took part in a number of raffles and games designed with one mission in mind — to raise as much as possible for local nonprofits.
This was the 10th annual Steak ‘n Bake hosted by the Rotary Club of Greenfield.
Nine nonprofits were chosen to participate in this year’s People’s Choice event, in which organizations compete to see which can raise the most funds in the weeks leading up to the dinner, right up to the final hour of the event.
Steak ‘n Bake attendees support their favorite causes by casting $1 votes.
PAWS of Hancock County came out on top this year, raising $19,600. They were followed by Bentley’s Buddies, Love INC, Hancock Hope House and Young Life.
“It was a huge night for them. Some of them were literally in tears as I was taking pictures. They were so overwhelmed,” said Rotary club president Monica Price Kowaleski.
The top five nonprofits will split the total proceeds from Steak n’ Bake, which is estimated to have raised about $31,000.
“We’re still waiting on sponsorship dollars and invoices to roll in, but as far as the People’s Choice goes, the winners should each receive grants in the amount of $6,000 to $6,500,” said event chair Rob Caird.
That’s in addition to the amount raised by all of the participating nonprofits, which raised a collective $69,500 this year.
Between that and the estimated $31,000 raised through Steak ‘n Bake, the event likely raised over $100,000 for nonprofits this year, said Caird, a wealth advisor with Greenfield Banking Co.
About 300 people attended this year’s event, which drew closer to 450 to 500 people prior to COVID.
Caird said that with Hancock County being such an active community, there’s a lot of competition for where to spend people’s time and money each weekend, including their charitable dollars.
“I think the crowd was as good as could be expected,” he said. “Times are a little different right now and prices are going up but we still had a very good turnout, and those who did show up had a very good time.”
One of the highlights of Steak ‘n Bake each year is the reverse raffle, where all attendees get the chance to compete for a $2,000 cash prize. In years past, competitors opt to split the pot once they get down to fewer than five people, but this year’s finalists stayed the course until a final winner — Robin Spencer — was the last person standing.
“It was definitely exciting for everyone to watch,” Price Kowaleski said.
Between the thrill of the games — including the return of the popular Heads or Tails game — and the delicious food, she counts the night as an overall success.
Grilling steaks for hundreds of people is no small task, she said, and was made even bigger with the loss of longtime Rotarian Jeff Harris, who had managed the cooking for years until he passed away in February.
Grant Ford, owner of BBQ’n Fools Catering, which has partnered with OnsiteCaterer in Greenfield, took over this year.
“Jeff always did such a great job that it takes five people to fill his shoes, but Grant was the perfect person to step in and coordinate all that. He did a great job leading the cooking team,” said Caird.