On a mission: Spring auction event to support Festival at Mount Si’s new scholarship program

From the popularity of its main event, you'd think the North Bend Education and Cultural Association, or its acronym, NBECA, would be a familiar phrase to Valley residents.

From the popularity of its main event, you’d think the North Bend Education and Cultural Association, or its acronym, NBECA, would be a familiar phrase to Valley residents.

After 16 years, though, the nonprofit responsible for putting on the perennially popular Festival at Mount Si each August still requires a lot of introduction.

“It’s the non-profit you never hear about,” said Michelle Meyer, association board member and organizer of the silent auction.

Even as the group launches its first scholarship program and a spring auction event to raise funds for it this year, she said “..in the process, we’re talking to people who say ‘what’s NBECA?'”

NBECA is the 16-year-old organization more commonly known as the Festival at Mount Si committee, an all-volunteer group. It’s also the sponsor of at least one $1,000 scholarship to be awarded to a Mount Si High School senior, starting this year.

“The group has been working to put the festival on for years and years, and now it’s fulfilling more of its mission,” said Meyer, with the scholarships.

“We’re basically looking to reward students who give back to the community.”

The mission of NBECA is: to promote the spirit of North Bend’s small town community by providing educational and cultural programs that will preserve the past, celebrate the present, and embrace the future; to advance the social welfare of North Bend and promote the happiness and well-being of its residents; and to lessen the burden of the municipal government of North Bend.

Seniors with a grade-point average of 2.0 or higher, a history of community service, and plans for continuing education were encouraged to apply for the scholarship last month. High school staff will narrow the field of applicants and association board members will make the final choice, or choices.

“We’re hoping that if we have a successful auction we can make it two $1,000 scholarships,” said Meyer.

The auction she’s talking about is not the traditional silent auction under the big white tent at Si View Park in August. This year, “the auction” is the stylish new indoor evening of festivities featuring local wineries Piccola, Pearl and Stone and William Grassie, plus beer or cider from the Growler Station, local jazz performers, student chefs from the Mount Si High School culinary arts program and auctioneer, Gregory Malcolm, director of Boxley’s Music Fund/Jazz Clubs NW.

“As much as we can, we’re going all local,” said Meyer.

The event is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Friday, April 15, at Si View Community Center. Doors open at 6. Advance tickets, available at www.festivalatmtsi.org, are $30, or $25 each for two or more people. Day-of tickets are $35.

Admission includes five drink samples, heavy appetizers and access to auction items donated by more than 100 supporters.

Donations of auction items will be accepted through April 8. To donate, send email to info@festivalatmtsi.org.

The Festival at Mount Si comes to Si View Park the weekend of Aug. 12 to 14, with traditional favorites such as the parade, live music, blueberry desserts, chili cook-off and wife-carrying.

Organizers are also planning, in recognition of the return of “Twin Peaks,” a twins competition and “damn fine cup of coffee” contest.

This annual community event draws nearly 30,000 visitors each year. Learn more at www.festivalatmtsi.org.