By AMBER HYLAND
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
ROGERS -- People sift through boxes of dishes, poke at rolled-up carpets and stand in awe before a tower of tires.
You name it -- fishing reels, folk guitars, posters of U.S. presidents -- it's probably labeled with a number and ready to be auctioned off at Rogers Community Auction.
For 50 years the Rogers Community Auction and open air market has been run by the Baer family.
"It's just something we grew up with," said Bill Baer, who has been an auctioneer since 1989. "There's always different people and new things."
Bill comes from a long line of auctioneers. His father, Jim, took over the Rogers Community Auction when Jim's father, Emmet, died in 1971. Emmet and his wife, Lucille, founded the community auction in 1955.
Bill's brothers, Ken and Wade, are also auctioneers.
Bill's voice is rhythmic, and he barely breaks for a breath between bids. People hold their yellow, numbered cards high, punctuating the inflections in Bill's voice. Within seconds another lucky bidder goes home with video cassettes of children's movies, glass bottles, tools -- you name it.
A family affair
Rogers wasn't always the open air market it is today, with 70 acres of free parking and over 1,300 vendors.
Seven years before Emmet Baer purchased an eight-acre site on state Route 154 in Morrisville in 1955, he and his wife, Lucille, started a consignment produce auction at cattle barns in Canfield, Damascus and Signal. Consignments from local farmers were accepted and auctioned.
The Rogers Community Auction began with produce, eggs, chickens, rabbits and other items auctioned every Friday at the Morrisville site. Some vendors here would join Emmet and Lucille to start the Rogers market.
After Emmet's death in 1971, the business was left to Lucille and their son, Jim.
In 1980, Jim began a building program with two pavilions and five buildings for vendors. A new poultry barn was built to house auctioned animals. The restaurant, built decades before, was expanded. Lighted, outside vendor spaces were created, and more land was purchased for parking spaces.
Jim turned the auction into independent businesses for vendors who can show their items to as many as 50,000 people a week for a small rental fee.
After Jim's death in 1999, his sons, Ken and Bill Baer, became managers and auctioneers. Jim's son, Wade, is also an auctioneer.
Jim's wife, Beverly, and their daughter, Connie Hughart, manage the office. Bill and Connie manage the rental of market spaces.
Beverly and Jim's other children, Megan, who is in college, and Sam, who is in high school, serve in various roles and work whenever they can.
"The Funnyman" sits inside one of the vendor buildings, asking parents for a $2 tip if he makes their children laugh. A boy is in stitches as "The Funnyman" tries to blow up a balloon and make an animal from it.
"Do you want an apple-colored one?" he asks the boy, holding up a yellow balloon.
On the west side of the market more children are giggling as they get pony and train rides, compliments of the Children's Day that was held Friday.
"If this round belly can fit here, anyone can," the train conductor says, encouraging parents to join their children for a ride.
Besides holding auctions, Rogers has an open air market where vendors sell just about everything.
Dale Jerkins, a retired postal worker, has come to Rogers for 13 years. He usually stays for 18 hours, starting his day at the market at 7:30 a.m.
"It's nice socialization," Jerkins said. "There's a certain camaraderie between vendors."
Jerkins said it is "clearly not the money" that keeps him coming back.
However, some vendors depend on what they make at the auctions to get by.
John Storm sits in a van where bluegrass music blares.
Storm said he used to work at Davey Tree and calls it a good day when he makes money.
However, Storm said the atmosphere of the market is something he likes.
"If you're walking down the streets people are afraid to talk to you. People aren't afraid here," Storm said.
One thing most people say when talking about the market is how "different" it is. Becky Pegg of Beaver has come here for almost a year to sell surplus from her greenhouse.
Besides getting good business, there's one thing Pegg keeps coming back for: people-watching.
"You see a lot of different sights," she said.