BATTLE GROUND — There had been a murder. Mafia Don Lou Zar, owner of a well-known speakeasy, was dead — stabbed by someone who had something to gain by eliminating him. And I was a suspect.
I was “Ace Reporter,” a news-hungry reporter who worked for The 20s Gazette. I got the facts, sniffed out the dirt and wrote the stories — talking fast, thinking fast and moving even faster. I came to Lou Zar’s establishment the evening of Oct. 22 to bust him and expose his criminal activities.
So, why was I a suspect in Lou’s murder? What would I have to gain from stabbing the shady bootlegger? Well, what most people didn’t know was that I had been having a passionate love affair with Lou’s sibling. We thought we were meant to be and thought it would last forever. Until my lover was killed by the Graves family, a family who was a rival to Lou in the bootlegging game.
I wanted revenge. So, did I kill Lou? Much to my disappointment, the character that I was playing that evening during the Crime And PUN-ishment 1920s murder mystery experience at the annual North County Community Food Bank Scare Away Hunger dinner and auction was not the murderer.
Clark County area community members dressed in their best 1920s garb — many dawning flapper dresses, zoot suits, feather boas, fedoras and more — made their way to the Battle Ground Community Center on Saturday evening to attend the annual Scare Away Hunger dinner and auction, the largest fundraiser of the year for the North County Community Food Bank.
The murder mystery experience was something new and fun that was added to the yearly event, with actors from The Murder Mystery Company of Portland creating the murder story of Lou Zar and engaging attendees. Someone from each table was selected to act as a suspect in the murder, and each table was to act as a team and figure out “whodunnit.”
Each table was given a binder that described the table’s suspect and detailed important biographical information about the suspect. Team members then had several chances to “investigate,” and were encouraged to walk around and ask questions of suspects and other guests in order to figure out who the true murderer was.
“The Murder Mystery Company of Portland kept the crowd guessing at every turn and using their high level detective skills interacting throughout the room to gather clues and solve the horrible murder that occurred right here in Battle Ground,” said Elizabeth Cerveny, executive director of the food bank. “We’re probably all in trouble for not calling 9-1-1, but it’s good to know we can rely on our thinking skills to get to the bottom of it all and arrest the culprit.”
Cerveny said the event had 112 attendees, plus the food bank’s contingent of “outstanding volunteers who kept the wheels rolling behind the scenes.”
In addition to the murder mystery part of the evening, the Scare Away Hunger event included a catered dinner by local South Pacific & Summerland Catering services, as well as silent and live auctions, and a “Gatsby dessert auction.”
Auctioneer for the evening’s live auction was community member Steve Pagel, who has been the auctioneer for the event for the past several years. Pagel’s energy, enthusiasm and jokes throughout the auction quickly encouraged a number of people to bid on items, all money that goes to help fund the food bank and the families it serves.
Cerveny said the evening brought in close to $40,000 for the food bank, with the help of all the “great supportive guests.”
“Their positive energy and excitement about our future plan design and the mission and goals of our organization are truly amazing and I feel so very blessed to have them by my side every step of the way,” Cerveny said.
Items that were available during the live auction varied, ranging from a chocolate fudge cake that was sold for $500 to Skip Ogden from Dan’s Tractor, to an “adult diaper cake” (you guessed it, it was shaped like a giant wedding cake and made entirely out of Depend adult diapers), to a Willamette Valley winery tour for four, an auto detailing package from Elite Collision & Auto Spa and more.
Cerveny said the single highest auction item of the evening was a San Francisco getaway package for two with round-trip airfare, which went for $1,500, donated by one of the food bank’s longtime major supporters — Jackson, Jackson & Kurtz.
The North County Community Food Bank is located in Battle Ground at 17 NE 3rd Ave. There are plans to have a new food bank facility built in the near future in order to expand and continue to help grow the educational programming offered through the food bank.
For additional information on the food bank, call (360) 687-5007 or email [email protected].