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Proceeds from this year's chair auction will be donated to Lake Okabena Improvement Association

FILE PHOTO: Chairs from a previous Regatta auction.

WORTHINGTON -- A charity event that started off as a bit of a fluke has now transformed into one of the main components of the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta. The Daily Globe Chair Auction started in 2003, when Denise Erwin was put in charge of decorating the Daily Globe tent.

"I just went overboard with the decorations," Erwin recalled, "and they had these chairs on sale."

Erwin started off by painting two chairs with a Hawaiian theme and placing them on display. It was then decided that they could be used in a silent auction. The high bidders presented those two original chairs to Regatta co-founders Bill Keitel and Jeff Hegwer.

"It was just so popular from that, we decided to expand it," Erwin related.

Each year, a local charity is chosen with the goal of improving the city, according to Erwin.

In its five years, the fundraiser has raised $15,850 toward local programs. Last year's charity, United Way, received a record $5,000.

The Hospice Cottage was the first charity chosen, receiving $3,000 in 2004. In 2005, $2,250 was raised for the improvement of Sailboard Beach, and Nobles County Freedom Veteran's Park received $2,300 in 2006. The next year, $3,300 was donated to the new YMCA facility.

For 2009, the Lake Okabena Improvement Association will be the beneficiary. It is working on a project to make eco-friendly pet waste dispenser bins that would be located around Lake Okabena. LOIA was also involved in the clean-up of Lake Okabena and the parks surrounding it earlier this spring.

Each year, 10 chairs are auctioned. Erwin herself has been an artist charged with creating an original chair design every year.

"It's getting pretty competitive," she laughed. "The artists are getting so good!"

The 2009 sponsors include: Gary's Paint and Hardwood, Avera Worthington Specialty Clinics, Erwin's Painting, Lampert's, Trends Salon, Mike Woll Investments, Worthington Fire Department, Java Nau, New Dawn and US 104.

The chairs are at sponsoring businesses up until the week of the Regatta, and then will be displayed in the Daily Globe tent at Sailboard Beach prior to the auction. People's Choice awards are decided by the amount of money deposited in plastic jars, with the top three places awarded prizes. The voting ends shortly before the auction scheduled for Saturday evening. The chair auction gets under way at 5 p.m. Saturday on the stage at Sailboard Beach.