In the fall of 1959, John Roth and Clarence Yordy from Morton, IL visited Arthur looking for support for a new MCC Relief Sale to be held in Congerville, IL. Their first contact was with Orva Helmuth from Arthur Mennonite Church. With Orva the spent the day visiting local Amish church leaders, generating a great deal of interest in the Congerville sale.

The 1967 Arthur Mennonite Relief Sale

The 1967 Arthur Mennonite Relief Sale

On March12, 1960 Ura Yoder and Orva Helmuth transported a pickup load of items from Arthur to that first Relief Sale in Congerville. The following year, an even larger pickup load of items went to Congerville and the sale netted over $5,000. Soon people started wondering if Arthur should have their own Relief Sale.

The Arthur area had long been involved in various relief efforts including a yearly meat canning initiative for MCC that had started in 1945. Financial support for MCC began in Arthur in 1948 when one area church, Arthur Mennonite, started taking a monthly relief offering. Interest in a local Relief Sale seemed to be a natural continuation of the relief efforts that had already been taking place in the community for several years.

A committee was formed that included representatives from all of the Mennonite churches in the Arthur area and plans were put into place for the first Arthur Mennonite Relief Sale to be held in 1962. That first sale was held on February 17th at the Arthur Sale Barn just north of town and raised approximately $2,000. Items for sale included several quilts and other new items and a bake sale was also held.


Some Interesting Sale Notes:

  • 1965: The February 27, 1965 sale raised $2,044
  • 1966: The sale was held on February 12, 1966 in the Borntrager building, south of what is now Kitchen Seed Company. This is the only time the sale was held at that location.
  • 1970: Due to the unpredictable nature of weather in Illinois it was decided that the sale would be held in the fall. The sale in 1970 was held in September at the Arthur Fair Grounds.
  • 1971: Income at the Relief Sale was $6,000.
  • 1979: The Relief Sale was held on July 28th, 1979 one week after the Moultrie-Douglas County Fair. This set a precedent for the event to be held one week after the fair every year and that continued for many years.
  • 1985: During the spring of 1985, interest was expressed in opening an MCC Self-Help store in Champaign, IL (35 miles north of Arthur). A committee was formed, including members from East Bend, Dewey, Urbana, and Arthur Mennonite churches and the store opened in August of 1985 at 47 E. University, Champaign. Today the store is located at 105 N. Walnut in Champaign and is called Ten Thousand Villages.
  • 1986: The sale generated $52,425 in include and included a bake sale, lots of local handcrafted furniture, a craft stand and a stand by MCC’s Self-Help store. The event continued to be held at the fairgrounds where by now it had engulfed the space of two large tents and four buildings.
  • 2001: After heavy rainfall on several different occasions, it was decided to move the sale from the Arthur Fair Grounds to the Otto Center, one half mile south of Arthur where everything could be housed under one roof. This was decided on November 6, 2001.

Today the Arthur Mennonite Relief Sale takes place in August of each year and is held at the Otto Center where hundreds of volunteers work together to raise funds to help those in need. Make a point to visit the next sale and see what you have been missing!