BENNINGTON >> Every year, the Bennington Rotary Club donates approximately $8,000 in scholarships for local students. However, to raise that money every year, the group relied on money raised from the annual Bennington Car Show. But when the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce announced last March that there would be no Car Show in 2015, the club had to scramble to find another way to raise the money. The group came up with the idea of holding a raffle, with the winner receiving a $4,000 cruise and airfare package. There would be 1,000 tickets sold, for $10 each, which would be enough to finance the scholarships and the overhead costs.
However, with the drawing scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 14, not all of the tickets have been sold. "The cruise is not donated so we really need to sell close to the full 1,000 tickets to make a significant impact on sustaining the scholarships," said Rotary Club member Catherine McClure.
The four scholarships are given to high school students who will be entering college, who then receive $1,000 in each of their first two semesters.
Then-director of the Chamber Joann Erenhouse announced in March that the Car Show, which had ran for the previous 48 years, had been losing money over the past 10 years. "If you do a business analysis you would look at it and see that it's been an event that has consistently had diminishing returns," she said at the time, noting that in 2013, only $13,000 had been raised by the event, $8,000 of which went to the Bennington Rotary Club for the scholarships. In 2014, she said, they made about $2,000 less, which led to the decision to cancel the event in 2015.
Chamber President Chad Schmidt had said when the announcement was made that the Car Show wasn't going away, and that the Chamber was simply taking a year to regroup. No announcements have been made about a 2016 Car Show. A group of citizens did try to organize a Downtown Bennington Car Show as a replacement event last year, but hit a snag when the Better Bennington Corporation refused to support the event, with director John Shannahan saying that he was not confident organizers could pull off an event that would meet the BBC's quality standards.
McClure pointed out that the chances of winning the Rotary Raffle are much higher than winning the Powerball jackpot, and will directly benefit local students. Tickets can be purchased at Wills Insurance, at 116 South Street in Bennington, Willy's Variety Store, at 300 Gage Street in Bennington, Kevin's Restaurant at 27 Main Street in North Bennington, and Maple Leaf Realty, 210 South Street, in Bennington. For more information, please contact Rotary Club President Brian Maroney at 802-343-4726 or member Kathy Sollien at 802-441-4745.