Chinese auctions? Meat raffles? WTF?

I’m visiting Mom and Dad in Buffalo now.

Buffalo is a city with a very unique, somewhat insular mindset and culture. Even though I grew up here, I never had an insight into some of the area’s traditions; I come from a middle-class WASP/J background, instead of the overwhelmingly dominant ethnic blue-collar Catholic culture.

While I’ve been back here, I’ve seen lots of signs, especially at churches, fire halls and fraternal organization buildings, advertising “Chinese auctions” and “meat raffles.” Chinese auctions have been around forever, and I’ve never seen them outside of Buffalo. Meat raffles seem like a new phenomenon, and again it’s something I haven’t seen beyond the area.

So, Dopers … what’s a Chinese auction, what’s a meat raffle, and are there other parts of the US or the world where they are common or popular?

I’ve not been to one, but I believe a Chinese auction is a reverse auction. The auctioneer calls out a rediculously high sum, and works downwards until somebody bids.

Met raffles? Well, they raffle meat. These are very common and popular in blue collar Australian pubs. I’ve just come back from a pub where one was going on. There were three prizes. Each was a mixed raw meat tray of various degrees of hugeness. You win one of these things and you don’t need to buy meat for weeks.

Meat Raffles!!! the mere mention of the word has me in stitches on the floor, they appear to be very popular in cheap pubs and working mens clubs over here in the U.K. I think they should extend the food/gambling idea a bit further to be fair…Dairy Bingo or Tinned Goods lottery anyone?

Meat raffles/auctions are something different up north. You take all the confensated (sp) animals that hunters killed - either because they went over their bag limit or they hunted them out of season/though illegal methods- and you freeze them somewhere. Then at some point during the year you raffle and/or auction off all the deer, moose, bear etc to people who’d like to eat them. I suppose this is only common to areas with large mammals that are considered eatable.

We have a meat raffle every Friday night down at the Moose Lodge. It a fund raiser for the scholarship fund. It isn’t just meat; it is all the uncooked makings for a dinner for 4-6 people, like steaks, baking potatoes, corn on the cob, bag of salad and maybe a cheescake or pie for dessert. Sometimes we include extra prizes, like a set of margarita glasses or barbecue tools. You buy raffle tickets for a buck each, and if your ticket is drawn, you win. The difference between the cost of the prizes and the total collected goes towards scholarships to local high school seniors; we give away $6,000 per year, all of it raised from little fund raisers like this, or benefit dinners put on by volunteers. Meat raffle may sound funny, but it all goes toward a good cause.

I had never heard of a Chinese auction before, but I Googled on it. It’s not a reverse auction. That’s usually called a Dutch auction. A Chinese auction is part auction and part raffle. In a Chinese auction, a number of items are offered in a raffle. You buy as many tickets as you want at some given price per ticket and put your name on each ticket. There’s a bucket or some such for each item in the raffle, and you put as many of your tickets in each bucket as you want. One ticket is pulled from each bucket to determine who won the item. Thus you determine your own chances to win each prize according to how many tickets you put in each of the buckets. It’s an auction in the sense that you can increase your chances by buying a lot of tickets, but it’s also a raffle because there’s still an element of luck.

Several blue collar bars around here have raffles at holiday times for turkeys and hams. Some private clubs also raffle a basket of assorted whiskeys, but that’s illegal here in Indiana.