After dreaming of being an auctioneer since he was a young boy, Bill Klassen held his first professional farm auction July 23rd, 1968, officially kicking off his - so far - 50-year career.

However, it was in high school, before his professional career began, that Klassen organized his first public event, a pie auction to raise money for hockey equipment for the school ice rink in Blumenfeld. "After that, I did numerous charity auctions," says Klassen.

Growing up, Klassen says there was a large cabinet radio next to their family dining table and about two or three times a week his dad would listen to the Fargo Stockyard Market. "He'd turn on the radio, and this auctioneer chat came on, then the market price, and then the chat," says Klassen. "And one day, when I was about 10 or 12, I said, 'when I grow up, I'm going to be an auctioneer.' My parents smiled, and I think one of my sisters (sarcastically) said, 'oh yeah?'"

Looking back on his five decades in the auctioneer business, Klassen recalls one item that was the "surprise of the day." About twelve to fifteen years ago, he sold a 1937 Martin D-18 guitar, which sold for more than $15,000.

File photo of Bill Klassen during the annual Winkler-Morden police bike auction.

A lot of things have changed in the past 50 years, one example being the number of farm auctions. "For instance, in 1992, we did a farm auction every day in April, except Sunday. In the last while, if I have a half a dozen to 10 farm auctions in April, I'm doing pretty good . . . but these eight in April now, bring as much money as the twenty-five did in 1992."

Well-known in Southern Manitoba, where he's done many auctions since 1968 Klassen says he's also had the chance to go as far north as Thompson and Northwestern Ontario.

At 70 years old, Klassen says he still loves what he does, and has no plans yet to retire. "It won't be another fifty, but as long as the good Lord gives me health, I'm ready to go."

A special celebration will be held Thursday night at the Days Inn Conference Centre to mark the occasion. Klassen says the event is to celebrate his "golden anniversary," and says thank you to the many people who have supported him.