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'Meet Me in Mortlach': auction to help increase village's tourist draw

Mortlach residents Terry Bittles and Mike Beaudoin are announcing plans to transform the village into southern Saskatchewan's must-see destination starting with an upcoming May 4 - 5 auction
Further announcements are to be expected as the “Meet Me in Mortlach” initiative continues to unfold in the months to come.

Mortlach residents Terry Bittles and Mike Beaudoin are looking to make revolutionary new changes this summer and are announcing plans to transform the village into southern Saskatchewan's must-see destination.

Their first step is to launch a two-day auction set for Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5.

This upcoming auction will start at 11 a.m. and organizers plan to include a beer garden and a roast pork supper prepared right in the village by Bittles at the Pit Stop Diner.

It’ll also be quite easy to find — the site is right along Highway 1 at the village approach and uses 30 acres of land set aside for the project.

Participants can expect to see a wide variety of farm and industrial equipment at the sale, and a local Hutterite colony has recently entered a large assortment of items.

“Meet Me in Mortlach” is the theme for the idea, and residents are uniting in small-town prairie spirit to revive the community with an uplifting enterprise set to run from April until September each year.

With help from auctioneers Gary Andrejein and Gary Giofu, the plan is to have three yearly auctions to help finance the summer-long event. This first auction will allow organizers to get their feet wet and work out the necessary logistics for further developments.

What sets this auction apart is the commission charged by the Mortlach-based organizers.

“The cheapest rate right now is a 30 per cent commission. So, by the time people go in and sell their stuff… they’ve already lost 45 per cent of whatever they’re selling (due to taxes plus commission),” Beaudoin noted.

“We’re 10 per cent. Out of that 10 per cent we’re paying our staff, and the rest is being set up where we can do things in the community.”

There’s plenty of reason to remain optimistic. As Beaudoin pointed out, something in the neighbourhood of 10,000 people drive by each day on average. If they were able to divert even just two per cent of that traffic into town, that alone translates into 200 daily visitors.

Several years ago, a former Mortlach resident named Syliva created a similar venture with the soon-to-be revived slogan, “Meet Me in Mortlach.” Her proven success is a leading factor the decision for a renewed effort to revive the community.

“It (had) different little events going on throughout the year, and people were just flocking (here) and we had a beautiful little country garden tea house across the street,” Bittles reminisced. “And it was beautiful.” 

Sadly, this all came to an end when circumstances changed. With nobody to lead the initiative, Mortlach’s golden age became a thing of the past.

“We’re reviving it – that’s the whole game plan here. (Let’s) get this place back up where it was before,” Bittles now declared. 

“It’ll end up as a destination event – all summer long,” he added. “I think it’ll be a prairie draw.”

Their plan is to make Mortlach the talk of the Canadian prairies.

“This is going to be the largest (vendor) collection in… the area – a large collection of vendors, artists, and musicians, and just everybody having a good time,” Beaudoin said.

“(At) the next sale we’re going to have more events; we’re hoping to have a car show at the same time… basically, we want Mortlach looking like the Berry Festival every (week),” he continued.

As the plan unfolds, organizers hope to encourage more business development in Mortlach, attract new residents, and guests can expect to see something new and exciting every week in an ever-changing venue.

“We’re all working together… just trying to get the sale (started) and get everything rolling. And then, once that’s going, (it’s) on to (step) number two, and number three, and number four,” Beaudoin said.

The sale can be accessed right off Highway 1. This immediate area is also the designated site for this summer’s new destination hotspot.

Entries are still being accepted for the auction. If you have an item to sell, organizers are willing to donate the proceeds to a Mortlach-based recipient of the donor’s choosing.

To enter the live auction, inquire about business opportunities, advertising, or for any other questions, Mike Beaudoin can be reached at 1-306-861-0001 and Terry Bittles can be reached at 1-639-538-3326.

Further announcements are to be expected as the “Meet Me in Mortlach” initiative continues to unfold in the months to come.

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