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Posted May 16, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Going once? Strasburg Youth in Arts program hopes idea for bachelor auction sells

Margaret Struder checks out two of the eligible bachelors
Margaret Struder, center, leader of Strasburg Youth in Arts, checks out two of the eligible bachelors -- Richard Seelbach, left, and Todd Myers -- who will be auctioned during the bachelor auction benefit for the program today from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Strasburg Theater. Rich Cooley/Daily

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By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- ewilkerson@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- If you're looking for a man to mow your yard or join you for a round of golf or a quiet dinner, you just might find him at the Strasburg Theater this afternoon -- if the price is right.

A bachelor auction, hosted by Strasburg Youth in Arts, will take place today from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Strasburg Theater. The event is a fundraiser for Strasburg Youth in Arts, which offers theater and arts programs for area youths.

Admission to the event is $7, and bidders must be at least 18 years old, said Margaret Struder, leader of Strasburg Youth in Arts.

Struder said she got the idea for the offbeat fundraiser from "Double Jeopardy," a 1999 film starring Ashley Judd as a woman who is framed for her husband's murder. In the film, Judd catches up with her still-living husband at a bachelor auction.

"We decided to run with it because, as you know, we don't charge the kids anything for participating in our program," she said. About 80 children are involved in the group, Struder said, and the cost of scripts, royalties for the Broadway Junior plays the children perform, costumes, props and food adds up.

"I was trying to think of something we could do that no one else does," she said. "People are excited about it because it is a novel idea and it sounds like a lot of fun."

There will be a minimum bid, she said, but that amount hasn't been set yet. As of Tuesday, 14 bachelors, with ages ranging from 20 to 66, were set to go on the block, she said.

It's up to the bachelors to decide "what they don't want to allow," Struder said, so they can stipulate what they want the "date" to involve, whether it be dinner or yard work.

Bachelor Justin Ritenour, 20, said he'd be up for dinner or a game of golf, if his date were interested. Ritenour, who's also a member of Strasburg's Town Council, said he got involved in the auction because "it's a good cause."

"If I meet someone and we have a good time and a good evening, that's the point," he said, but he's not using the auction to find a mate. "I'm just looking for a fun evening. ... Really, it's for the benefit of the charity."

Bachelor Todd Myers, 27, said he was playing poker at the Strasburg Theater last week when the bartender approached him about the event.

"She said, 'You're cute. You ought to join the bachelor auction,'" said Myers, who owns his own landscaping business and lives in Stephens City. He agreed to go up for bid once he learned what the event was for, he said.

"I think if you keep the kids off the streets and out of these gangs, they've got a future," he said. Like Ritenour, Myers, who enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking and horse riding, said the auction is "all for fun."

"I'm not out to find a perfect match, so if they need something done around the yard, I'll do that," he said. The higher the bid, the more work he'll be willing to do, he said.

Bachelor Richard Seelbach, 66, has 15 grandchildren and owns Bygones, an antiques store in Strasburg. Seelbach, who retired from the U.S. Navy and has lived all over the world, said he was concerned about one aspect of the event.

"I don't think anybody will bid on me," he said, laughing. "That worries me."

Some of the bachelors were unsure whether they wanted to participate, but "as soon as we tell them what it's for, they're all for it," Struder said. Some women even told Struder they wouldn't mind if their boyfriends went on the block for the cause, she said, but, organizers ultimately decided only single men would be up for bid.

"What woman wants to bid on a taken man, right? Unless she really wants her lawn mowed," she said.

Though he's not looking for romance, Ritenour said the event could be a good way for "guys to get out and meet somebody."

"I'm sure some men are looking at this as, 'Hey, maybe this is an opportunity to maybe meet someone," he said.

And Myers had a message for those who would argue that the auction is demeaning to the men involved.

"Just quit being uptight," he said. "I mean, I could see [objecting] if it was just not for a cause. ... But, I really do think it's for a good cause."

Organizers are doing everything they can "to make it as safe as possible for both sides ... without being invasive, without treating them like non-consenting adults," Struder said. "And, we want it to be fun."

Struder said bachelors can still sign up today, and interested men can contact her at the Strasburg Theater at 465-1777.

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