Fundraising for the Force: Rancho Obi-Wan Galaween 2015

The fourth annual event featured amazing auctions and a gathering of friends and fans.

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Rancho Obi-Wan’s annual fundraiser — Galaween — took place on Saturday, October 24. Galaween celebrated the ties between Star Wars and Halloween with special guests, games, live and silent auctions, food, and drinks.
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For those who don’t know, Rancho Obi-Wan is a not-for-profit museum, a 501(c) charity, that holds the largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia anywhere in the known galaxy. It is owned by Steve Sansweet who has, so far, written 16 Star Wars related books and excelled as director of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm for 15 years.

The annual Rancho Obi-Wan gala raised funds for the ongoing costs of maintaining the museum and enables Steve, the museum’s curator Anne Neumann, and the Rancho Obi-Wan board to continue their mission of inspiring others through the power of the Force.

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For some it was their first experience at Rancho Obi-Wan, while for others, it’s become a much-loved home-away-from-home. It was, as it always is, a great evening with like-minded people sharing their mutual love for everything Star Wars while being able to look around the museum at a leisurely pace. During tours you are guided along on a Sansweet-led Star Wars journey through the museum and don’t always have the chance to linger, so this is a great opportunity to get up close and personal — although, and as you would expect, you can’t touch!

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This year there were three very special guests, two of which had distinct Halloween links; Alex Wer, a.k.a. The Pumpkin Geek, was always obsessed with carving pumpkins. He began experimenting with shading techniques and eventually shifted to “craft” pumpkins so that the pieces would last forever. Alex attends conventions, won a Geekie Award for his work, has been hired by Netflix, ESPN, and Legendary Entertainment; he has appeared on hundreds of blogs and was featured in People Magazine last year. Those present at Galaween were able to watch Alex carve a pumpkin live and bid on a dazzling display of eight one-of-a-kind Star Wars pumpkins that were part of the live auction.

Eileen the Light Coach is a “spiritual alchemist” and a powerful and intuitive medium. Throughout the evening Eileen gave guests the opportunity to have her offer insights through a special Force card reading, and all guests were given a set of these specially created Force cards in their swag bags. The third guest was Don Post Jr., who has been linked to Star Wars from the very beginning and was the very first Star Wars licensee outside of publishing.

The event started at 4 p.m., followed by a welcome from our host Steve Sansweet. Food was available from 5:30 p.m. in Jabba’s Palace, where guests could see the eight pumpkins that Alex had previously carved, including Yoda, Kylo Ren, stormtrooper, and BB-8. While this was going on, guests could play games such as “Balloon Pop” and “Destroy the Death Star,” where they could win some amazing prizes.

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There were two auctions throughout the evening. The silent auction took place in the Ephemera room with staggered endings. The live auction started at 7 p.m. in the main room with the highlights being an original Ralph McQuarrie drawing of Cloud City dating back to 1978, donated by Ralph’s friend Stan Stice (this alone went for over $4,000), various original Don Post Studio castings, unnumbered sample pens from Cross, Episode VII crew gear, and original art by artists including Dan Bergren, Ted Dastick Jr., Ingrid Hardy, Karen Hinson, and Rhiannon Owens.

After the live auction, Don Post Jr. sat with Steve to answer some questions and talk about his experiences. Star Wars fans know Don Post Studios as one of the first Star Wars licensees and for its incredible range of over-the-head latex masks and helmets that were sold from 1977 through 2000. Don succeeded his dad as head of Don Post Studios, which was founded in 1938, and was in business for 74 years. Thanks to Don, his successor company, and Lucasfilm, Rancho Obi-Wan has become the repository for many original Don Post Star Wars mask molds and other pieces, which were on public display for the first time at Galaween.

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After hearing from Don, dessert was served and the silent auctions ended. One last surprise for the evening came when Steve dressed up as Wolffe from Star Wars Rebels. The costume was put together by Jon Farmer who is known for dressing at clone captain Rex from Rebels, alongside Kevin Weir as clone Gregor.

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As guests left they received an amazing swag bag filled with exclusive goodies including a T-shirt and patch with the Galaween logo designed by talented graphic artist Curt Hanks, eye lenses from Don Post Studios, a box of Kraft Macaroni Cheese (from the recent commercial that featured items loaned from Rancho Obi-Wan), plushes from Comic Images, trading cards from TOPPS, and much more.

Rancho Obi-Wan is passionate about using local services from award-winning providers and dinner was prepared by local chef Julie Warner of Twisted 2 Restaurant. Wine was supplied from many of Sonoma County’s 16 appellations, the amazing dessert cake was created and baked by Rancho neighbor Let’s Do Cake, and memories were captured by Victoria Webb Photography (voted best photographer in Petaluma and best wedding photographer in Sonoma County three years in a row).

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this year’s gala was named by Mark Newbold, StarWars.com blogger and my brother in the Force at Jedi News and RADIO 1138, who came up with the name Galaween the morning after the 2014 gala ended — and he’s already named next year’s gala too!

If you want to join us at Rancho Obi-Wan for the 5th annual gala in 2016, you need to be a member of Rancho Obi-Wan and purchase a ticket. Next year, Rancho Obi-Wan celebrates five years as a not-for-profit, and the gala on November 5, 2016, is sure to surpass even this year’s amazing event. You can support Rancho Obi-Wan by taking out an annual membership — to find out more, visit Ranchoobiwan.org.

Photographs courtesy of Rancho Obi-Wan and Lucas Seastrom.

James Burns co-owns and runs Jedi News (with Mark Newbold) — the largest English-speaking Star Wars fan site in Europe — is the co-host of the UK-centric RADIO 1138 podcast, and is a regular contributor to Star Wars Insider and Build the Millennium Falcon magazines. You can also listen to James as part of the monthly Star Wars Collectors Cast, discussing all the latest Star Wars collecting news with Steve Sansweet, a fellow StarWars.com blogger, about the latest goings at Rancho Obi-Wan.

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