Epworth Town and Country Days

Larry Hosch watches bids during a live auction at Epworth Town and Country Days.

EPWORTH, Iowa — The quick succession of numbers that could only come from an auctioneer's voice took over the sounds of Epworth Town and Country Days this afternoon in Tower Park. 

Organizers of the celebration select a group to receive community betterment proceeds each year, and this year's was the Epworth Fire Department. The dozens of items up for auction are included in that donation. 

"They do a great job. You can't say enough about them," Town and Country Days committee member Jack Silker said of the fire department, which is made up completely of volunteers.

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Around 250 people were gathered across the park to take part in the Town and Country Days events. Festivities kicked off Friday night with a couple of bands bringing live music to the community gathering. 

Today's schedule included a barbecue cook-off, street dancing and a morning parade. 

Molly Beidler, of Dubuque, came to Epworth's celebration for the first time this year to be part of the parade with Beidler Towing. Afterwards, she grabbed a number to bid on auction items. 

"Volunteer fire departments donate so much of their time for us, this is the least we can do to help them out," Beidler said. 

Auctioneers reminded the crowd several times during the auction sale that proceeds went to the fire department, which was met with applause from those bidding as they stood in the street or sat in lawn chairs. 

Items ranged from a homemade apple pie that went for $40 to an overnight stay at a Dubuque hotel for $225. 

Also part of Town and Country Days were several activities for children, including the giant slip 'n slide that has been a part of the festival for a few years, Town and Country Days committee member Dawn Kress said. 

New this year was a wiffle ball tournament, which took the place of typical celebration staples that were forgone due to COVID-19.

"We didn't do the bouncy houses this year to be cognizant of what's going on," Kress said. 

Usually, Town and Country Days takes place all on one side of the park, Kress added. However, this year's celebration was spread across Second Avenue so people could better distance themselves from others, she said. 

Kress said one couple that attended Town and Country Days thanked her for still putting on the celebration that gave them "some kind of normalcy." 

Marilyn Besler, of Epworth, said she comes out to the Town and Country Days each year, citing the music and food — all donated by the Epworth Gun Club —  as her favorite part of the event.

Besler added that she liked coming to the celebration as a way of supporting the community, including through donations to the fire department. 

"It's very important (to support them)," she said. "They're there for us, and they're all volunteer."