Annual Cowboy Christmas fundraiser kicks off holiday celebrations at Olaf Wieghorst

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“Cowboy Christmas” came to downtown El Cajon on Nov. 30, at the Olaf Wieghorst Museum, for a midday gathering in Old West style celebration of the late-year holidays. The event was replete with Westerners, including a special appearance from Cowboy Santa, who sat for photos with wine social luncheon guests of arts patrons and supporters of the Western museum, and cowboy members of the Olaf Wieghorst Posse.

“Cowboy Christmas” came to downtown El Cajon on Nov. 30, at the Olaf Wieghorst Museum, for a midday gathering in Old West style celebration of the late-year holidays. The event was replete with Westerners, including a special appearance from Cowboy Santa, who sat for photos with wine social luncheon guests of arts patrons and supporters of the Western museum, and cowboy members of the Olaf Wieghorst Posse.

Earlene Hollmichel, executive director, explained that this fundraising event is a popular one on the Western heritage arts and culture museum’s annual schedule.

“This event starts the holidays,” Hollmichel said. “The champagne and wine social luncheon used to be mostly all women, but now men attend too. Members of the museum board and other supporters are asked to be in Olaf’s Posse, and these guys in the posse provide the half-time show during the lunch and help with the live auction and presentation of opportunity drawing and Chinese auction winners.”

Raffle prizes were holiday- and museum-relevant, with Christmas decorations and Christmas plates, gift baskets, comfort item collections, artworks, and wines with serving sets. The event kicked off at 11 a.m. for three hours of lots of Western fun and fundraising.

“This is my favorite event of the year,” said Monica Zech, public information officer for the City of El Cajon, as she walked among the lobby display of raffle items. “The museum itself is a wonderful part of the history of El Cajon, celebrating an artist who lived here. This is a big star right here in the heart of El Cajon.”

“We’ve been doing this for about 12 years,” Hollmichel said. “This is a fun event, and we always stage this before the Christmas rush.” The museum is currently hosting a show of artworks from six local artists, which will run through January. “We really want to say thank you to our posse,” Hollmichel said.

Olaf’s Posse members plied the ladies and gentlemen by filling glasses of wine and champagne, before they repaired to the museum lobby to reload with humorous poems and stories for the half-time entertainment show. Posse member Jim Daniels promised “dignity, class, culture and panache.” Uh huh. The posse member turns at the podium were punny, modestly self-deprecating, and wildly funny.

John Stauffer, current president of the museum board, led the posse. Stauffer described the event’s history briefly, noting that each year around 60 to 70 attend, with 65 signed up for 2017’s Cowboy Christmas wine social lunch. This event usually brings in $3,000-4,000 to support museum programs. Stauffer further said that this is a fun one, but not the biggest museum fundraiser of each year. The largest money-raising party at the museum is the Round Up, with the next one to be staged on May 5, 2018. The theme of that fundraiser is “Bring ‘em Home,” as a reunion party inviting long-lost museum patrons and supporters to come back again.

Stauffer has been active in supporting the Wieghorst Museum for about 3.5 years. Stauffer is a professional woodworker who has built woodworks for the museum and crafted an artwork wine glasses display holder for donation to this year’s fundraising. “I got involved,” he said. “And I learned there are so many good people here.”

Hollmichel and board members also wanted to remind Christmas shoppers that the Olaf Wieghorst Museum has a gift shop featuring Western jewelry, books, art reprints, hand-painted gourds, and ever-popular dream-catchers. The Olaf Wieghorst Museum is located at 131 Rea Avenue in El Cajon. Information is available by phoning (619) 590-3431 or by researching online at www.wieghorstmuseum.org.