Massive €13,000 bid wins right to carry Mgarr statue

Traditional Mgarr feast auction in aid of parish church and charity raises €13,000

A massive winning bid of €13,000 won the traditional auction at the Mgarr feast this afternoon to earn the right to carry the statue of the Assumption of Our Lady during the village’s procession this evening.

The winning group is led by restaurant owner Wistin Vella, a longstanding participant in the auction who won the auction last year, albeit for €1,000 less. 

Together with neighbouring Dingli and Zebbug, Gozo, the tiny village of Mgarr today celebrated the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady – a week after seven other parishes across Malta and Gozo celebrated the feast.

The auction, which was led by Parish Priest Fr Kalcidon Vassallo, was witnessed by hundreds of residents who gathered in the shadow of the parish church to witness the 94-year-old tradition playing out.

When the church bells tolled noon, Fr Vassallo took the microphone and started proceedings by reciting the Angelus prayer, and calling the teams interested to come forward.

A few moments later, one of the groups vying for the right to carry the statue opened the bidding with a bid of €500. The groups then traded bids before a final bid of €13,000 by Vella was followed by his rivals’ concession.

Vella is no stranger to winning the annual event, having won five times in the last six years, but this year’s sum is the largest he has paid, superseding the €12,000 he paid last year. In 2013, the auction raised €11,5000 while in 2011, €10,500 were raised.

The tradition dates back to 1923, a year after the statue was brought to the village. Traditionally, the auction was held after the parish was overwhelmed the requests to carry it during the procession, and consequently, it was decided that the team with the highest donation will earn the privilege to carry the statute. Only people who live in Mgarr can take part.

All of the proceeds go towards the parish’s costs and the costs of the feast, while a quarter of the money raised, or €3,250, will be donated.

An additional €5,000 was raised.