The Volunteer Center of Kern County is once again hosting its Monopoly Mania fundraiser, coming to the Fandango City Palace on Friday. 

Monopoly is already a competitive game, as friends and families turn into rivals trying to accrue the most money and properties. When actual prizes are on the line, instead of just bragging rights, expect the game to get a little more intense.

On Friday evening, the Volunteer Center of Kern County will hold its annual Monopoly Mania fundraiser, now in its sixth year. Thursday is the last day to buy tickets, so act fast if you want to go.

"It is the best event," said Brenda Ratliff, the center's executive director. "It is so much fun. We actually play Monopoly but it's not like you've done it before."

Taking over Fandango City Palace, the fundraiser will have several tables, with the board game and bankers at each. Guests will play for 45 minutes before breaking for dessert, and then return for another 45 minutes of game play.

"People are laughing, (and) it's a really active event," Ratliff said. "It's a lot of activity. It's not a quiet, boring night by any means."

One big difference between playing at home and at Monopoly Mania is the presence of an actual jail cell.

"The banker calls for the jailers, and they're sworn to uphold their duty to come and arrest you," Ratliff said. "The banker points out who needs to be arrested, and they stay at least one full round; bail is set at $5 cash. Our jailers stay busy."

By the end of the 90 minutes, whoever has the most money at each table wins the chance to pick a prize bag. Some will have certificates for dinner, a trip, maybe a Jamba Juice, but one bag will have the grand prize inside, worth $800 ($400 at Eagle Mountain Casino, a steak dinner and four tickets to any concert there).

Before the game starts, guests will enjoy dinner catered by Coconut Joe's. They can also snack on popcorn throughout the game.

During the dessert break, guests can place final bids in a silent auction. Items include gift baskets, trips, services and more.

"One of the best things is, it's an event that's only $35," Ratliff said. "Where can you go to get quality entertainment, dinner, all of this for only $35?"

And it's for a good cause. 

Monopoly Mania is the main fundraiser for the Volunteer Center, typically raising about $8,000 to $10,000 and getting around 150 to 200 attendees. The money helps with operational costs for the organization, which connects people looking to volunteer with the local agencies that need them. 

The Monopoly event is "a lot of fun, it's affordable and it's a great night out," Ratliff said. "It's a great support for the Volunteer Center and a great support for volunteerism."

Kelly Ardis can be reached at 661-395-7660. Follow her on Twitter at @TBCKellyArdis.

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