After students made sparks fly, the community let their money fly at the sixth annual Carhartts and Caviar Welding Showcase and Auction at the Great Plains College Thursday night.

The auction was able to raise $19,600 and featured thirteen items. Eight of them were made by the welding students at the college while the other five were donated by local companies.

Jared McKenzie, the head welding instructor at the Great Plains College, said that for the students it wasn't just about making items to auction off but also learning.

"They worked countless hours on this stuff, on top of their regular school work," he said. "They're learning so much through situations that I can't recreate. It's real life situations, and it's training them to be more intelligent to think on their feet and just giving them a real-world view, plus they do have fun seeing what they create."

McKenzie added that the showcase and auction went really well.

"The community has really stepped up and really showed up to support and invest in what we are doing here," he said. "It's been a blast to watch happen."

The night didn't just feature an auction but also a raffle, drinks, food, and caviar.

McKenzie said that when you think about welding, you don't really think about caviar, which is why they wanted to incorporate it.

"We thought of caviar as fancy and hoity-toity, and we wanted our event to be something that you would not expect from welders."

He said that to see the event grow from being hosted in a cafeteria to the gym is awesome.

"I had always done some custom art pieces for other peoples auctions, and then the idea came up that we could raise some money and do one ourselves," he said. "It just started in our cafeteria, and it was very small. We did some art pieces to raise some money for new stuff in the shop and then as the event grew and grew we were able to start investing in scholarships for these students, so it's really really grown in the six years."

McKenzie said that the $19,6000 raised in the auction would go towards their scholarship program and helps upgrade the welding shop.

"Without the scholarships, a lot of these students don't have the money to even go to school, or while they're going to school, it puts food on their plate and clothes on their back," he said. "It just gives them the money to live and gain an education, and part of the money goes towards upgrading our shop with new technology and stuff so we can train them on the latest and greatest equipment."

The night also featured some special auctioneers as two of the students got to show off their auctioning skills as part of the Junkyard Wars.

McKenzie said that the Junkyard Wars splits the welding class into two teams of four and then they face off to see who can raise the most money.

"I came up with it because Junkyard Wars was one of my favourites shows years ago," he said. "We decided to do a competition one year where we were going to make it like Junkyard Wars, and it just continued year after year and it's actually one of my favourite days to watch unfold because they're not allowed any help from me, Their on their own, and they have to learn on how to deal with pressure, design, creative and so many real-life factors that factor in, not even in welding but in life values in general."

Even Mayor Denis Perrault got in on the auctioning as he auctioned off the mystery item.

The mystery item was a coat rack that went for $3,500. (Photo by Tanner Wallace-Scribner)

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McKenzie added that the community involvement makes the event worthwhile.

"It's an awesome event, and every year we watch it grow," he said. "We watch the community involvement, and to me, that's the biggest thing. Just how this community really steps up and invests in what we are doing make it worthwhile doing."

Photos by Tanner Wallace-Scribner

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