Jeff Kelble, of Ashby Gap Adventures, is shown leading a float trip on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. He and Friends of the North Fork Executive Director David Brotman will lead a trip for up to five people as part of an auction item during the upcoming Fish Fry Auction.

An upcoming online auction will help the Friends of the North Fork provide conservation and education programs around the area.

The 16th annual Fish Fry Auction, hosted by Laughlin Auctions of Edinburg, starts with items available for viewing now. Bidding begins Sunday and closes at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4, said David Brotman, executive director of the Friends of the North Fork.

“This is the first year that we’re going online,” he said.

The organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the auction was moved online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brotman said.

Auction items include vacation packages and a stay at a local bed and breakfast, a Shenandoah River float with Ashby Gap Adventures, fly fishing ties by Jack Chapman, abstract art by area artist Sally Veach, hand-turned wooden bowls, ceramics, stained glass, a food and wine pairing for 12 people at Muse Vineyards, a tour of the Historic Barns of Shenandoah County by local historian John Adamson and a Civil War battlefield tour at Cedar Creek with Richard Kleese.

“We have more than 70 items up for auction,” Brotman said.

People can participate at home by viewing the items at Register at the site to start viewing items. Bidding runs from 8 a.m. Sunday to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4.

Bidders can set a high bid and will get email notifications if they are outbid. They’re encouraged to check back at the site throughout the week to see how their bids are doing.

“There will be a lot of late and last-minute bidding,” Brotman cautioned.

After the bidding closes, he said each item will close out one at a time between 6:30 and 7:45 p.m.

Each year, the end of the auction includes a special appeal for funding that helps support public education and community programs organized by the Friends of the North Fork that benefit both the community and the Shenandoah River.

“We make a special appeal to raise funds for those programs and we’re going to do that within the auction this year,” Brotman said.

The goal is to raise $10,000 total with people bidding on suggested donation amounts posted on the website.

The money will go to support upcoming programs like river cleanups, an inaugural North Fork Conservation Corps for older teens and the Schoology program through Shenandoah County Public Schools.

The youth corps starts today and focuses on community service projects and outdoor activities that teens can be a part of at Seven Bends State Park in Woodstock.

Schoology is a programmatic approach the school system is taking to online and hybrid learning during the pandemic, Brotman explained. He hopes the Friends can help supply materials for the program.

Recently receiving a $12,000 grant from the Garden Club of Virginia, the organization also has plans to break ground on a natural playground at Seven Bends State Park later this year.

The Friends have had a lot of community support to help make the project a reality, Brotman said.

“We also serve as Friends of Seven Bends State Park,” he said. “We’re gearing up for educational and experience-based programs there — for all kinds of engagement at the park.”

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