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'Take a Seat' fund-raiser draws a crowd in Vienna

Auction of artistic benches raises funds for the Vienna Arts Society

The Vienna Arts Society’s “Take a Seat Vienna” bench auction, held Nov. 11 at the Vienna Community Center, showcased the creativity of its members and raised a still-being-tabulated amount of money for the organization.

Hundreds of people crowded into the community center’s new gymnasium, where all 40 benches painted by VAS members were arrayed for viewing and hoped-for purchase.

James Madison High School senior Sammi Wallace added to the event’s festive atmosphere by singing and playing classic rock tunes on an acoustic guitar.

The sturdy benches, made out of cypress wood, were hand-built for free by Vienna artist Ralph Reinecke. The artist put together the benches using wooden dowels and branded all on the back with his stamp. Audience members applauded loudly when organizers asked Reinecke to stand up and be recognized.

Attendees sampled pizza, sandwiches, desserts, wine and beer donated by local vendors, then settled in for the main event. Auctioneer Brian Damewood explained the rules to those who planned to bid on benches, then kicked off the auction.

VAS held a similar painted-bench fund-raiser in 2019, which proved highly popular – so much so that thieves made off with several benches. This year’s benches are larger and heavier.