Grovel Alert: 2017 Mad Hatter’s Tea’s “Under The Tuscan Sun”

Mad Hatters Tea (File photo)

It seems that Mad Hatters Tea Chair Linda Spina and Vice-Chair Sharla Bush weren’t able to hunt for Easter eggs over the weekend. They were too busy checking the headcount for the Thursday, April 27th fundraiser for the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum.

The results? They discovered that the “Tea is officially sold out.”

Does that mean it’s really, truly a done deal? True, the “buy tickets” links aren’t going to do much good, but there’s still hope. So, before putting away that Easter bonnet, send Sue Ringle an email and see if she can squeeze you in.

Threatening Skies Cleared Just In Time For 1,300 To Eat, Drink And Celebrate The Inaugural Dallas Arboretum Food And Wine Festival

When Chef Sharon Van Meter took a flight from New Orleans to Dallas on the morning of Thursday, March 16, she was hoping Big D would be warmer than the Big Easy had been. But she arrived to 60-degree weather, overcast skies and the threat of drizzle.

Sharon Van Meter

Normally, that would not be a problem for a chef, but Sharon was chairing the inaugural Dallas Arboretum Food And Wine Festival that evening outdoors at the Dallas Arboretum with an expected 1,300 guests.

As the day continued, organizers called area meteorologists hoping to hear that clear skies were on the evening docket. In the meantime, Sharon received at least 200 calls seeking tickets for the sold-out fundraiser.

Even at 5 p.m., things weren’t looking so rosy, with the clouds staying put. Then, magically, right on cue at 6 p.m. as the VIP patrons approached the Main Parking Gate, the skies cleared, with the sun slowly slipping into the west over White Rock Lake and temperatures in the low 70s.

The festival was a way to start building the anticipation of the under-construction, two-acre “A Tasteful Place” slated to open this fall. The Place will be a cornucopia of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers, plus a 3,600-square-foot Garden Pavilion for dining and teaching. But for now, the guests were on the scene to dine and wine throughout the Arboretum. 

Chad Houser and LaDarian Neal

The VIP types were directed to the DeGolyer House for a private reception, where they had expected to see the Chef With No Name. But, no. No Name was a no show. Still, there were other chefs like Chad Houser and Craft Spirits specialist/mixologist Matt Orth making magic.

Cliff and Gail Fischer and Denny and Connie Carreker

Christine Stein and Haley Muse

Alexis Abril and Danielle Abril

Patricia Dunne, Traudi Bandura, Jeanette Johnson and Melora Leiser

The VIPs enjoyed the terrace better than even the DeGolyer family had with incredible dining, view of the grounds and White Rock and seeing such folks as Gail and Cliff Fischer, Connie and Denny Carreker,  Patricia Dunne, Traudi Bandura, Jeanette Johnson, Melora Leiser, Christine Stein, Haley Muse and Danielle Abril with her brother Alexis Abril.

Dallas Arboretum Food And Wine Festival

Terry and Anne Conner

Kay Weeks

In the meantime, the early-arrival general admission guests lined up for the official opening at 6:30. What they discovered were four areas throughout the grounds, each one representing a different region (Pan Asian, Southern American, American Bistro and Mediterranean) featuring loads of area chefs (Chef Aaron Staudenmaier of Shinsei/Lovers Seafood and Market, Chef Abraham Salum of Salum Restaurant, Chef Alex Astranti of Uchi, Chef Anastacia Quinones of Oddfellows, Chef Andrea Shackelford of Harvest Seasonal Kitchen, Chef April Barney of Miller and Associates, Chef Brad Phillips of Asador Restaurant at the Renaissance Dallas, Chef Chad Houser of Café Momentum, Chef Christopher Patrick of Abacus, Chef Daniel Pittman of LUCK, Chef Daniele Puleo of CiboDivino, Chef Dunia Borga of La Duni Baking Studio, Chef David Gauthier of Smoky Rose, Chef Eric Dreye of Fearings, Chef Gianni Santin of Haute Sweet Patisserie, Chef Henry Gentry of Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream, Chef Jay Valley of Saint Rocco’s, Chef Janice Provost of Parigi, Chef Jean-Marie of CADOT, Chef Jeffrey Hobbs of The Slow Bone, Chef John Doumas of Pop Star Handcrafted Popsicles, Chef John Tesar of Knife, Chef Josh Harmon of Kitchen LTO, Chef Junior Borges and Chef Josh Sutcliff of Mirador, Chef Justin Box of Cedars Social, Chef Katherine Clapner of Dude Sweet Chocolate, Chef Larry Williams of Sallio, Chef Luis Olvera of Trompo Taco, Chef Mark Wootton of Garden Café, Chef Mary Sparks of Emporium Pies, Chef Matt McCallister of FT33, Chef Meaders Ozarow of Empire Baking Co., Chef Michael Scott of Rosewood Ranches Wagyu Beef, Chef Mike Shetsky of SĒR Steak and Spirits, Chef Nikky Phinyawatana of Asian Mint, Chef Omar Flores of Casa Rubia/Whistle Britches, Chef Rebecca Jolly of Grayson Social, Chef Richard Chamberlain of Chamberlain’s, Chef Robert Lyford of Patina Green Home and Market, Chef Samantha Rush of Rush Patisserie, Chef Samir Dhurandhar of Nick and Sam’s, Chef Scott Nakachi of Paul Martin’s American Grill, Chef Sheila Roidopoulos of Cheesecake Royale and Royale Desserts, Chefs Sonny Pache and Michael Scott of Ocean Prime and Chef Uno Immanivong of Chino Chinatown) and wines to match. The people-watching merrily continued with Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi supporting her CapRock Services husband Alex Laurenzi and Smoky Rose brother David Cash, Kay Weeks and Anne and Terry Conner. Alas, the servers like Sonny Pache, Sandra Reyes and Roberto Cabrera were so busy serving, they rarely got a chance to look up.

Alex Laurenzi, Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi and David Cash

Another highlight of the evening was checking out the Dallas Blooms’ “Peace, Love And Flower Power” displays.

Dallas Blooms’ Love, Peace and Flower Power

Just after 8 p.m. Hobo Cane was in concert at the Martin Rutchik Concert Lawn, along with desserts from around the world.  

Dallas Arboretum VP Terry Lendecker looked like a person amazed at how perfect it all turned out — the 500,000 blossoms were vying for attention skyward; the guests grazed happily at the 40-ish chef stations; the weather was a step above spectacular; and there was not a mosquito in sight.

Summed up Chef Sharon: “What a perfect place this was for it. We all love the Arboretum. I call Arboretum people ‘little fairies,” because they go around spreading good cheer all over the place!” 

Make plans now for the next Food and Wine Festival. It’s scheduled for Thursday, March 22, 2018.

Jewelry Designer/Attorney Kori Green (Aka Mrs. Pat Green) To Be The 8th Judge For Mad Hatter’s Tea Hat Competition

Under The Tuscan Sun*

Mad Hatter’s Tea 2017 Chair Linda Spina is going “green” with the announcement of the eighth judge for the “Under The Tuscan Sun” theme chapeau competition at the Dallas Arboretum on Thursday, April 27.

Hold on to your hats! It’s Kori Green. In addition to being a jewelry designer, an attorney and pretty darn cute, she’s also the wife of Grammy-nominated country singer/songwriter Pat Green and mom to their two kiddos Kellis Green and Rainey Green.

She got in the jewelry designing business while studying law at the University of Texas Law School. It provided her with a creative outlet. In addition to her professional activities and community involvement, she and Pat established the Pat Green Foundation.

Kori won’t be the only “greenie” in the judging line up for the eight categories. She’ll be joining Klyde Warren Park President Tara Green plus celebrity judge Rachel Zoe, restaurateurs Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun (a judge team), Kerrently website editor Courtney Kerr, Kidd’s Kids CEO/Chief Happiness Officer Caroline Kraddick, fragrance guru Niven Morgan and Dallas First Lady Micki Rawlings.

Tickets for the annual eye-popping fundraiser for the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum are available here.

* Graphic provided by 2017 Mad Hatter's Tea

Watch For Hobbits Thursday, Friday And Saturday While Touring The Whimsical Shire Of Preston Hollow For Equest

Now that this wet stuff seems to be calming down, the upcoming days seems bright and shiny. Evidently, the Equest organizers arranged something with Mother Nature to have perfect weather for folks to explore the Tolkien-inspired Shire in Preston Hollow.

The Shire of Preston Hollow*

While other estates in the neighborhood are manicured like a socialite’s nails, this acreage is a wonderland with its 9,000-square-foot main house, an attached conservatory and a detached guest house known as the Hobbit House. Why, Frodo Baggins would feel right at home there! And rightly so. After all, it took seven years to create. Why, one would actually expect Legolas to flutter by or to be greeted by Gimli at the drawbridge before crossing to the portcullis.

Inside there will be “couture fashions and accessories from Lily of the West and Hari Jewels, with designer guests appearances, and additional luxury items from Origins of Santa Fe Boutique” plus refreshments and music. And while Shadowfax, Arod and Bill the Pony won’t be on hand, their good buddies, the Equest mini-ambassadors, just might be hoofing around for a photo or two.

Like Brigadoon, this magical property at 4668 Meadowood Road will be available for touring this Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to benefit Equest. Alas, it’s only available for checking out by big kids (21 years and older). Organizers are requesting a minimum donation of $20 for the equine therapeutic program. Register right here.

* Photo provided by Equest

JUST IN: Hold On To Your Hats! The 2017 Mad Hatter’s Tea Judges Were Just Announced

Despite the stormy weather, Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Linda Spina had folks gather at Tootsies this afternoon for “Mimosas and Millinery,” plus the great reveal of the judges for the Thursday, April 27thUnder The Tuscan Sun” hat competition at the Dallas Arboretum.

Hat by Cassandra MacGregor

Surrounded by a collection of chapeaus including some by Cassandra MacGregor for the “Mimosas and Millinery” reception, Linda announced the following judges:

Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing (File photo)

Caroline Kraddick*

Niven Morgan (File photo)

Micki Rawlings (File photo)

Celebrity judge Rachel Zoe, restaurateurs Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun (a judge team), Klyde Warren Park President Tara Green, Kerrently website editor Courtney Kerr, Kidd’s Kids CEO/Chief Happiness Officer Caroline Kraddick, fragrance guru Niven Morgan and Dallas First Lady Micki Rawlings.

The judges will be eyeballing the guests’ finery for awards in the following categories:

  • Molto Italiano “Very Italian” — Most True-to-Theme.  Everything Tuscan from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the art treasures of Florence to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and everything in between.
  • Rachel’s Pick – Rachel Zoe’s favorite hat.  The best of the best, from her point of view.
  • Bella Donna “Beautiful Woman” — Most Elegant.
  • A Taste of Italy — The food and drink of Italy. Wine, cheese, pasta, pizza and more!
  • Bellissima Botanical — Best Botanical. What would Mad Hatter’s at the Arboretum be without hats adorned with beautiful flowers?
  • Fellini’s Follies — Famed Italian film director Federico Fellini always worked in a group. Best Group of Hats. Men may compete in this category.
  • Mamma Mia! — Most outlandish. Go wild!
  • Ciao Bella! “Hello Beautiful” — People’s Choice.  The best of the best, as voted on by the attendees.

Warning: Please do not try to bribe the judges, but do get your hats ready for the champagne reception on the Ginsburg Plaza and reserved your seats for the Tootsies fashion show in Rosine Hall and the seated luncheon in the tented Outdoor Plaza.

* Photo provided by 2017 Mad Hatter's Tea

The Perfect Fix For St. Patrick’s Day Weekend’s Need For Green

Dallas Arboretum tulips

It’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Instead of flying off to Ireland to kiss the Blarney Stone or hitting the pubs for a tankard of Guinness Extra Stout, why not surround yourself in picture-perfect green?

It can be found at the Dallas Arboretum with acres of  magnificent green grounds being highlighted by 500,000 blossoms.

And if you’re set on kissing something, the Arboretum has plenty of tulips. Wink, wink.

Sold-Out Alert!: Dallas Arboretum’s Inaugural Food And Wine Festival

Dallas Bloom’s tulips (File photo)

Despite claims that North Texas has been evacuated due to Spring Break, ain’t so! In fact, more than 1,300 are gonna be at the Dallas Arboretum’s First-Ever Food and Wine Festival Thursday. If you haven’t gotten your ticket, you’re out of luck because the food fest is sold out!

Janice Provost and Abraham Salum (File photo)

Chad Houser (File photo)

Dunia Borga (File photo)

It’s been such a gangbuster sell-out that the tulips are squeezing together to make room for the participating chefs (Chef Sharon Van Meter, Chef Aaron Staudenmaier, Chef Abraham Salum, Chef Alex Astranti, Chef Anastacia Quinones, Chef Andrea Shackelford, Chef April Barney, Chef Brad Phillips, Chef Chad Houser, Chef Christopher Patrick, Chef Daniel Pittman, Chef Daniele Puleo, Chef Dunia Borga, Chef Rebecca Jolly, Chef David Gauthier, Chef Dunia Borga, Chef Eric Dreyer, Chef Gianni Santin, Chef Henry Gentry, Chef Jay Valley, Chef Janice Provost, Chef Jean-Marie, Chef Jeffrey Hobbs, Chef John Doumas, Chef John Tesar, Chef Josh Harmon, Chef Junior Borges, Chef Josh Sutcliff, Chef Justin Box, Chef Katherine Clapner, Chef Larry Williams, Chef Luis Olvera, Chef Mark Wootton, Chef Mary Sparks, Chef Matt McCallister, Chef Meaders Ozarow, Chef Michael Scott, Chef Mike Shetsky, Chef Nikky Phinyawatana, Chef Omar Flores, Chef Richard Chamberlain, Chef Robert Lyford, Chef Samantha Rush, Chef Samir Dhurandhar, Chef Scott Nakachi, Chef Sheila Roidopoulos, Chefs Sonny Pache, Michael Scott and Chef Uno Immanivong).

After grazing among the 500,000 blossoms and food stations, guests will be entertained with a concert on the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage And Lawn as the sun sets behind White Rock Lake.

North Texas Smarty Pants — TAG And Lee Park Jr. Conservancy — Make Kentucky Derby A Two-Day Fest Of Fundraising

Tired of hearing about event collisions? You know. That’s when two or three very interesting fundraisers are scheduled at the same time like this past Wednesday, when the luncheon slam-bang — Linz Award, Planned Parenthood and the Virginia Chandler Dyke — had guests making Solomon-like decisions. Not everyone can be a Janie McGarr, who attended the Linz VIP reception in the Omni’s Trinity Ballroom and then scooted on over to the Omni’s Dallas Ballroom for Planned Parenthood.

But how about some good news about two groups that had competed for the same type of guests and managed to make it all work this year?

Horse racing (File photo)

Back story: In past years, the Kentucky Derby has had the BrainHealth’s Think Ahead Group (TAG) and Lee Park Junior Conservancy holding their fundraisers at the same time to see the Run for the Roses. Ah, but this year those brainiacs came up with an idea — a two-fer by holding their event the night before to get the momentum underway plus celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Gee, no wonder they’re so dang smart!

So, here’s how North Texas is gonna celebrate the Kentucky equine race:

  • Harold Scherrell, Alison Percy, Scott Caldwell and Dan Hunt (File photo)

    Friday, May 5 (8 p.m.-midnight) — TAG holds Cinco de Derby at Marie Gabrielle with margaritas and mint juleps complementing Mexican food. If you haven’t been to Marie Gabrielle, don’t tell a soul. It’s Dallas proper’s sweetheart of an oasis within the concrete forest. Proceeds benefit the Discovery Group, a program at the Center for BrainHealth that “works to improve quality of life after an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.” As for tickets, non-TAG member tickets are going for $87 and members save $20 for their $67 tickets.

To keep things rocking and rolling, wake up late morning and put on your prettiest frock and nattiest duds and prepare for fashionable strutting and horse racing watching. (Editor’s note: put tea bags on top of those partied-out eyes for 10 minutes before applying the makeup.)

  • Tyler Stevens, Gay Donnell and Camille Cain Barnes*

    Saturday, May 6 (4 – 7:30 p.m.) — For the big spenders, the 9th Annual Day at the Races Co-Chairs Camille Cain Barnes and Tyler Stevens announced at the kick-off party at Vineyard Vines that there will be a VIP private champagne reception at Arlington Hall and Lee Park starting at 4 p.m. But, please let the jeans, cowboy boots and leather fringe take the day off. This one demands true southern comfort sundresses and seersuckers topped off with smashing hats. Well, after all, there is a competition for the Best Dressed and Best Hat. If it’s a pretty day, there will be lawn games. But if it’s one of those drizzle days, don’t despair. (Alliteration is everything, don’t you know!). Inside Arlington Hall there will be a silent auction, a wagering table, live music and watching the Derby on major screens. Remember? You’re there for the Kentucky Derby. Tickets are available now with Lee Park Junior Conservancy members getting a thrifty $125 per person and non-members paying $150. For that VIP special, it’ll be $500 for two and it include “an invitation to attend the Patron Party in April.” Love perks!

If you haven’t been to either or both of these events, stand in the stand-out corner. There isn’t a zit in the crowd and even AARP types suddenly become young fillies and stallions.

* Photo provided by Lee Park Junior Conservancy

Despite Topsy-Turvy Temps, Dallas Blooms Will Be Abounding With “Peace, Love And Flower Power” Through April 9

Yesterday the temperatures were in the upper 80s. Tonight the mercury will drop to the 30s. This winter has been a roller coaster with wardrobes going from shorts to quilted jackets and back to sandals within hours.

If you think you’ve been dizzy from the changes, take pity on the plants. One minute they’re poking their heads up to spring-like conditions and just as quickly they’re being threatened with frost.

Daryl Kirkham, Mark Clayton and Mark Wolf*

And you just know the Dallas Arboretum folks have had their hands full in preparation for Dallas Blooms that had its Iberiabank sponsor Dallas Market President Daryl Kirkham, Dallas City Councilperson Mark Clayton and Dallas Arboretum Board Chair Mark Wolf on hand for the preview of this year’s theme “Peace, Love and Flower Power.”

This year’s petal extravaganza will “showcase an explosion of color with vintage VW floral topiaries and more than 500,000 spring-blooming blossoms” until Sunday, April 9.

Dallas Arboretum’s Dallas Blooms*

According to Dallas Arboretum President/CEO Mary Brinegar, “Dallas Blooms is the largest display of tulips in a public garden anywhere west of Holland. Later in the festival thousands of azaleas and hundreds of Japanese cherry trees will blossom, leaving breathtaking color at every turn. Guests are sure to have an unforgettable experience this spring in our world-class garden.”

During the run of Dallas Blooms through Sunday, April 9, different activities celebrating the 1960’s theme will take place. From an Ed Sullivan Show-Celebrity Weekend, a music festival throughout the gardens to guests getting henna tattoos, and 1960s fashion on display in the DeGolyer House, it’ll make you dig out your bell bottoms and Nehru jackets.

And as if the Dallas Blooms isn’t enough, the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden will be back in action Saturday after going through its annual winter refreshing.

* Photos provided by Dallas Arboretum

How About A Whopper Of A Valentine’s Day Floral Arrangement?

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day and it’s to florists what the Super Bowl is to pizza shops. And like pizza, the usual dozen long stem, red roses will be history all too soon. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

But how about a gift of flowers that lasts all year round for the recipient? And the price is less than $100.

Dallas Arboretum (File photo)

It’s an individual membership at the Dallas Arboretum. Not only does it allow the lucky recipient free access to the more-than-60 acres of grounds overlooking White Rock Lake, it also provides a guest to come along free and free parking for one vehicle plus four total reservations to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden.

And if you want to look like a really big spender, you might want to check out the other levels of membership.

While you’re being such a sweetheart, why not share your love with a child you don’t know but who sure could use that special feeling? You don’t even need a stamp to lick…just a finger to click here!

JUST IN: Artscape Reimagined 2017 Chair Kaki Hopkins Announces Craig Hall To Receive The First Great Contributor To Art Award And Much More Deets

Due to circumstances way beyond our control, the next couple of days are going to be filled with announcements galore thanks to those wonderful people who bring you fundraising in North Texas. The news will be revealed as soon as it breaks.

The very first on the lineup just took place, courtesy of Artscape Reimagined 2017 Chair Kaki Hopkins, who never tackles any project in a lightweight manner. She gathered a crowd of folks, including many of her 48-member committee, at Dallas Arboretum’s DeGolyer House this evening to reveal plans for the upcoming Artscape Reimagined 2017.

Kaki Hopkins (File photo)

Craig Hall (File photo)

The eyebrow-raising headline of the evening was the creation of the Great Contributor to Art Award in association with the garden’s fine art and craft show. And to kick the launch of the award off with a bang, she announced the very first recipient will be entrepreneur/best-selling author/philanthropist/vineyard owner Craig Hall.

According to Kaki, “Craig Hall embodies the spirit of this award. He is someone who collects art not for himself but for the benefit of the communities in which we live and work, and we are excited to honor him.”

Craig will be presented with the Gary Lee Price-designed award on Friday, May 12, at the Artscape Award and Auction Dinner in the Arboretum’s Rosine Hall.

With wife Kathryn Hall standing nearby, Craig said, “I am a strong believer in the importance of public art and the incredible effect it can have on its audience. Art has the ability to touch the soul and make people think, and it should be shared openly and democratically. The Dallas Arboretum, through its public art exhibits, sculptures throughout the garden and Artscape, is a great example of how our city is embracing public art, and I am glad to be a part of it.”

Patricia Meadows (File photo)

Regarding Artscape itself, it will feature more than 100 renowned artists from around the country thanks to the Artscape jury including Chair  Patricia Meadows, Katherine Wagner and Marty Ray with assistance by Gail Sachson. This year’s show will feature “a variety of mediums including paintings, sculpture, 2-D and 3-D mixed media, photography, fiber, ceramics and more.” But leave it to Kaki to have ramped it up to live up to its Artscape Reimagined theme, like:

  • An architect-designed landscape layout with decorative signage and boulevards that provide excellent audience flow and heightened visibility for the artists.
  • The historic DeGolyer House transformed into the DeGolyer Gallery, featuring local Dallas galleries presenting works by artists they represent
  • The University Zone, where approximately 10 universities will show and sell works by their professors and students.

And it will all take place with the Arboretum grounds in full bloom, thanks to dazzling azaleas. The schedule calls for the member preview on Friday, April 28, with the public viewings on the following Saturday (April 29) and Sunday (April 30).  

As an additional offering, Artscape guests will also be able to check out ZimSculpt, the exhibition of “modern Zimbabwean stone sculptures that will be incorporated into the garden” from Saturday, April 15 through Monday, July 31. This collection of more than 100 hand-carved pieces will be the first time that the sculptures will be on display in the southern U.S. During their stay, Zimbabwean artists Aron Kapembeza and Passmore Mupindiko will be on hand to demonstrate how the stone is carved into modern art.

BTW, tickets for the Artscape Award and Auction Dinner are $300 per guest and will be available for purchase on Monday, February 6.

JUST IN: With An Italian Flavor, 2017 Mad Hatter’s Chair Linda Spina Reveals Eight Categories For Under The Tuscan Sun’s Judging

Under The Tuscan Sun*

And the news that Mad Hatters and their chapeau designers have been waiting for has just been revealed. 2017 Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Linda Spina revealed that in keeping with the “Under the Tuscan Sun” theme, the following categories will be judged at the Dallas Arboretum on Thursday, April 27, for the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum fundraiser:

  1. Molto Italiano (“Very Italian”) — Most True-to-Theme. Everything Tuscan, from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the art treasurers of Florence to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and everything in between. 
  2. Rachel’s Pick — Special guest Rachel Zoe’s favorite hat. The best of the best, from her point of view.
  3. Bella Donna (“Beautiful Woman”) — Most Elegant. 
  4. A Taste of Italy — The food and drink of Italy.  Wine, cheese, pasta, pizza and more!
  5. Bellissima Botanical — Best Botanical. What would Mad Hatter’s at the Arboretum be without hats adorned with beautiful flowers?
  6. Fellini’s Follies — Famed late Italian film director Federico Fellini always worked in a group. Best Group of Hats.
  7. Mamma Mia! — Most Outlandish. Go wild!
  8. Ciao Bella! (“Hello Beautiful”) — People’s Choice. The best of the best, as voted on by the attendees.

Now, get those glue guns warmed up and have a glass of France MayesToccare le Stelle, while you’re at it.

Mad Hatter’s “Under The Tuscan Sun” Reveal Party Had Loads Of Surprises And Rachel Zoe Name Dropping

With just five months to prepare their dazzling headpieces, the Maddest Hatters gathered at Tootsies on Thursday, November 17. Besides celebrating any occasion connected with the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum, the guests were there to learn the details for the Thursday, April 27th Mad Hatter’s Tea at the Arboretum.

Dyann Skelton, Melissa Lewis and Emilynn Wilson

Yes, the date was important because, unlike a few years back when guests shivered in near-freezing temperatures, Women’s Council President Melissa Lewis and Event Chair Linda Spina picked a date in late April when frost will be long gone. It also allows more time to prepare those hats for showing and competing.

Linda Spina and Lynn Dealey

Under The Tuscan Sun*

But the big news was the event’s theme. This news was the one that warmed the hearts and glue guns of hat designers. Drum roll. The theme for the 29th Mad Hatter’s Tea will be “Under the Tuscan Sun.” No wonder the gals picked a sun-friendly date and artist Lynn Dealey’s sunflowers artwork took full advantage of the theme.

But wait, there was still more news and it was a real head turner. Thanks to Tootsies’ Nerissa von Helpenstill and the Mad Hatters brain trust, super-duper special guest will be fashion designer, author, business woman, nuclear scientist Rachel Zoe. (Okay, so maybe not that last one about the nuclear scientist, but she’s everything else and so much more.) Is anyone surprised that Mad Hatters fashion sponsor Tootsies carries Rachel’s line of fashions? Nah!

Sharla Bush and Amy Warren

While a couple of the guests (mostly guys) looked a little baffled about the younger crowd getting downright thrilled over Rachel’s participation, they’ll wise up by the big day, especially if they check out The Zoe Report.

Adding to the namedropping of the occasion, it was revealed that Amy Warren and her daughter Amanda Hill would serve as honorary co-chairs thanks to their buddy Mad Hatter’s Co-Chair/Warren buddy/McKinney shop keeper Sharla Bush.

But there was even more good news. Individual tickets are available now at $350 via the Women’s Council website. Later in the spring a limited number of tickets will be made available for $250. But who wants to wait and take a chance on missing the fashion show produced by Jan Strimple, a seated luncheon overlooking the Arboretum grounds, and being seen on the scene?

Proceeds from the event will “grow and maintain A Woman’s Garden.”

* Graphic courtesy of Lynn Dealey

Starting Sunday Dallas Arboretum’s Rory Meyer Children’s Adventure Garden To Take Time Off To Prepare For Spring Festivities

Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden (File photo)

Not only is 2016 closing down Saturday, the Dallas Arboretum’s Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is going on hiatus until Friday, February 24.

Dallas Blooms (File photo)

During this time period, the staffers will be providing “winter maintenance” and getting it prepared for the spring festivities including Dallas Blooms: Flower Power that starts Saturday, February 25, with 500,000 blooming flowers.

Plants Have Feelings, too

Today and tomorrow the Dallas Arboretum staffers are busy planting bulbs snug in the grounds and covering them with petunias. As the below-freezing temperatures approach Saturday night, here are some suggestions from Dallas Arboretum VP of Gardens Dave Forehand,

Dallas Arboretum crew planting bulbs before the freeze

  •  Water before it freezes: Watering material before the threat of frost protects the plant root zone. Water acts like a blanket insulating the roots. This makes the plant stronger against a freeze. When plant cells are full of water, they are less likely to be subject to frost damage. If possible, water a day or two before a freeze and make sure to water the entire root zone of the plant. This is especially important in newly planted trees and shrubs. Try watering early in the day so plants have time to absorb water before a freeze. If at all possible, avoid watering the foliage. If you have an irrigation system, hand watering might be the best option for certain locations. Keeping water off the foliage prevents the formation of ice on leaf material which can cause breaks and more damage.
  •  Use frost cloth: Frost cloth acts as a blanket and helps trap heat. Make sure that you secure the cloth entirely around the plant and tighten to the soil using fabric pins or bricks (anything that will hold it down firmly will work). Frost cloth is made from a product that “breathes,” and this cloth helps against burn caused by other materials. Purchase frost cloth months in advance. When the threat of a freeze is coming, frost cloth sells out quickly. Do not use frost cloth when there is a chance of snow. Otherwise, it will cause more damage breaking plants from the weight of the snow.
  • Check plant health: The healthier your plants are, the more prone they are to handle stress. Proper water and maintenance throughout the growing season will help in the winter months. It is also important to select the right plant for your area.  Check to make sure that the plant material you select is appropriate for your location. Check out USDA plant hardiness zone map to see what zone you live in. This information will help you purchase the best plant material for your zone.

So, if you’ve finished your uber shopping, then why not take advantage of this advice from a man-who-knows? Come spring you’ll be the standout among your neighborhood of cottages.

Just 48 Hours Before His Accident, Chef Kent Rathbun Was Heading Up The March Of Dimes Signature Chefs Dinner

The fall temperatures weren’t the only things in the “change mode” on Thursday, November 3, While the Flora Award Gala black-tie set were celebrating adorably cute couple Myrna and Bob Schlegel at Texas Discovery Gardens, the short-skirted, stiletto types were grazing over at the Hilton Anatole for the March of Dimes’ Signature Chefs Dinner.

Despite years past of partying at the Omni, the 500+ crowd owned the Chantilly Ballroom with Lady Lucy Wrubel at the musical helm. And it truly was the type of music to diner with and bid on.

Lucy Wrubel

Lucy Wrubel

Alina and Ruben Esquivel

Alina and Ruben Esquivel

Fraser and Rhonda Marcus

Fraser and Rhonda Marcus

Andrea Weber

Andrea Weber

As Diane and Hal Brierley, Laura Moon, Andrea Weber and Rhonda and Fraser Marcus sampled around the room that was lined with chefs like Jim Severson, Gilbert Garza, David Hoblen, Janice Provost, John Tesar, Chad Houser, Nicolas Blouin and Elvis cooking up a storm, Chief Chef Kent Rathbun had his arm around longtime cooking pal Aaron Staudenmaier. While Kent was pulled away to talk with another pod of pals, Aaron remembered how sad Kent had been when the kerfuffle with his business partner had taken place. But Aaron quickly added, “But Kent is strong.”

Hal Brierley, John Tesar and Diane Brierley

Hal Brierley, John Tesar and Diane Brierley

David Holben

David Holben

JIm Severson

JIm Severson

Elvis

Elvis

Gilbert Garza

Gilbert Garza

Aaron Staudenmaier and Kent Rathbun

Aaron Staudenmaier and Kent Rathbun

Little did Aaron or Kent know that just 48 hours later, Kent’s strength would be put to the test following a devastating ATV accident in Marfa that resulted in his being air-lifted to Odessa and then Parkland with punctured kidney, fracture vertebrae and 27 ribs.

We are pleased to report that thanks to outstanding medical care, wife Tracy Rathbun’s constant presence and the support of family and friends, Kent made it home in time for Thanksgiving.  

JUST IN: The Dallas Arboretum Just Welcomed Its Millionth Visitor For The Year

It’s not every day that the “million mark” is hit.  And today was the day that the Dallas Arboretum scored it for the first time in its history. Well, of course, there have been millions over the years, but this year is the first time that they welcomed the millionth visitor within the calendar year.

And what a visitor it was! Actually it was a couple — first-time visitors Micki and Randy Baldwin, who were in town from North California. They had been in Oklahoma City to visit their sons and a new grandchild and decided to drive on down to Dallas to check out the Arboretum. Made perfect sense since Randy is a gardener and the twosome like to check out botanical gardens and arboretums.

Mark Wolf, Randy and Micki Baldwin, Al Olson and Missy Whisler*

Mark Wolf, Randy and Micki Baldwin, Al Olson and Missy Whisler*

Micki’s and Randy’s helping the Arboretum pass the million-visitor point put the Arboretum in a very rarified place. “Of the more than 50 large gardens in the nation, the Dallas Arboretum joins only six other ones that have reached more than a million visitors annually.”

They couldn’t have picked a more perfect day. Not only did the icy chill hold off, but Micki and Randy were able to see the elaborate 12 Days Of Christmas throughout the grounds, as well as being greeted and ballyhooed by Dallas Arboretum Board Chair Mark Wolf, Board member Al Olson and Arboretum Senior VP Missy Whisler.

According to Mark, “First, we are grateful for the support of our 37,000 members and donors. Second, there were several factors that helped us reach a million visitors. In addition to our popular Dallas Blooms in the spring and Autumn at the Arboretum, the garden finally added a blockbuster holiday display — The 12 Days of Christmas — that attracted our local community and many out of town visitors.”

If you haven’t checked out the winter wonders, bundle up and head on over. BTW, if you want a night time view of the exhibit, you’re in luck. The gardens are open Wednesday through Sunday evenings through Friday, December 30. However, the 12 Days will be available for daytime viewing every day leading up to Sunday, January 8, except for Christmas Day, when the grounds are closed.

* Photo provided by the Dallas Arboretum

The Dallas Foundation Bus Tour Provided Donors With A Firsthand Look At Bonton Farms And Encore Park

One of the advantages of being part of an organization like The Dallas Foundation is the ability to come together for site visits of one of the nonprofits that aren’t on the radar. On Wednesday, October 5, the Foundation donors had the opportunity to check out Bonton Farms and Encore Park. While both are rich in history, they have also had their share of rough times. Thanks to philanthropic efforts by The Dallas Foundation and others, those situations are changing for the better. Here is a report from the field:

From the left: Judy Townley, Anne Holmes, Laura J. Brown, Lesley Martinelli, Steve Holmes, Sarah Burns, Sara Ahr, Helen Holman, Jenny Mullen, Steven Engwall, Claudia DeMoss, Lydia Addy, Carol Noble and Lori Giesler*

From the left: Judy Townley, Anne Holmes, Laura J. Brown, Lesley Martinelli, Steve Holmes,
Sarah Burns, Sara Ahr, Helen Holman, Jenny Mullen, Steven Engwall, Claudia DeMoss, Lydia
Addy, Carol Noble and Lori Giesler*

Intrepid Dallas Foundation donors spent an unseasonably warm October day exploring two unique urban experiments: Bonton Farms  in South Dallas and downtown’s Encore Park . Led by Director of Donor Services Lesley Martinelli and Chief Philanthropy Officer Helen Holman, the donors boarded a shuttle bus to the Bonton neighborhood.

Daron Babcock*

Daron Babcock*

The shuttle stopped at Bonton Farms, a two-acre spread snuggled up against the levee at the end of Bexar Street. The farm’s executive director Daron Babcock came on board to give a brief guided tour of the area.

Babcock explained that the historic African-American neighborhood was built in a floodplain, had two large public housing projects and devastated by floods and crime in the 1980s and 90s.

Today, the neighborhood is improving. The housing projects were torn down and replaced with new subsidized apartments. Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity built 133 houses on vacant lots. And Bonton Farm is growing fresh food which providing employment and business opportunities. The farm won The Dallas Foundation’s $50,000 Pegasus Prize for creative solutions to community challenges last year.

Bonton Farms' goat*

Bonton Farms’ goat*

Donors walked past rows of peppers, collard greens, lettuce and cabbage. The oversize garden grows 20,000 – 30,000 pounds of produce annually, Babcock said. The visitors were impressed. Their expressions turned to amusement as they stepped inside the goat pen. The farm’s small flock of brown and white Nubian goats gently swarmed the visitors and were rewarded with head-rubbing and back-petting. The donors stopped by the chicken coop, smiled at the Berkshire sow and finished their tour at a shed where visitors can purchase farm-produced honey and eggs.

The next stop was Encore Park in downtown Dallas. An outreach project of First Presbyterian Church and The Stewpot, Encore Park is in the process of reclaiming a historic building to highlight the city’s role in blues and western music, and create a new, safe space for homeless and housed Dallasites to get to know one another.

Jenny Mullen and Christy Coltrin*

Jenny Mullen and Christy Coltrin*

After enjoying boxed lunches at the church, donors headed across Young Street to The Stewpot and its Open Art studio. Colorful paintings and drawings created by the studio’s homeless artists covered every wall. Visitors learned about the program’s art classes and shows, then went back out into the heat to see Encore Park, its mural and 508 Park.

The group entered the long-abandoned Art Deco building at 508 Park, which was built in 1929 as a film warehouse and became a field recording studio in the 1930s. Blues legend Robert Johnson recorded there, as did Bob Wills and even Eric Clapton. The visitors marveled at the (nonfunctioning) elevator with its manually operated glass doors and the marble floor in the foyer.

Donors atop 508 Park Building*

Donors atop 508 Park Building*

The group climbed the staircase to the second floor, with its large banks of windows, which will eventually be the Open Art studio’s new home. Then it was on to the third floor, which will become a recording studio for the community. Last, the visitors headed up to the roof, which provided a great view of Encore Park’s community garden and outdoor amphitheater.

The Dallas Foundation is so pleased to be able to provide educational opportunities such as the Donor Bus Tour, which allows our donors to experience firsthand the inspiration and creative work of organizations like Bonton Farms and Encore Park.

* Photo credit: Jason Janik

Lee Park Junior Conservancy Creatively Revealed The “Goosebump-Making” 2016 Day At The Races Net

There are ways of announcing the results of fundraisers. There’s the good, old familiar check presentation. But then there is the more creative type, like the way the Lee Park Junior Conservancy did in reporting the results of their annual “Day At The Races.”

Teffy Jacobs, Kirsten Williams, Doris Jacobs and Whitney Brune*

Teffy Jacobs, Kirsten Williams, Doris Jacobs and Whitney Brune*

Since Co-Chair Wendy Messmann was unable to attend, Co-Chair Kirsten Williams drafted Honorary Chair Doris Jacobs to help in the presentation at the Trunk Club. Each was “given large cards with numbers on them to post in the right order. While the theme song from ‘The Price Is Right’ played, they made several attempts to the delight of the crowd, finally arriving at $81,460, double the previous year’s net income. Junior Conservancy President Whitney Brune Carroll said that she “got chills and goosebumps” when the number was announced.

And that amazing total couldn’t have come at a better time. According to Lee Park and Arlington Conservancy President/CEO Gay Donnell, “Lee Park has lost several trees that the Conservancy is looking to replace. Arlington Hall is also facing replacement of equipment that has aged since the Hall was restored 14 years ago.”

Thea Van Loggerenberg, Dean Driver and Sara Jones*

Thea Van Loggerenberg, Dean Driver and Sara Jones*

The sponsors of the winning fundraiser included Exxir Group/Nazerian Family —Thea Van Loggerenberg, Doris Jacobs, Four Roses Bourbon — Kent Grindinger, TRUNK CLUB, Consilium Lifestyle Collections—Dean Driver, The Barre Code Design District—Lori Lesneiwski, US Trust/Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Bailey Banks & Biddle/Longines, NorthPark, Whole Foods, Prashe/Flora & Eventi, Allie Beth and Pierce Allman and Sue Krider Dallas Real Estate.

* Photos provided by the Lee Park Junior Conservancy

Four Hundred Watch Nyquist Win The Run For The Roses As They Raise Money At TAG Derby Event For BrainHealth Center

Harold Scherrell, Alison Percy, Scott Caldwell and Dan Hunt

Harold Scherrell, Alison Percy, Scott Caldwell and Dan Hunt

Dreamy and Jessi Gould

Dreamy and Jessi Gould

Cigars, seersucker, sunglasses and big hats were the order of the day when as many as 400 young professionals gathered on Saturday, May 7, for the Think Ahead Group’s Sixth Annual Kentucky Derby Party. The focal point of the derby-watching party was a big-screen TV set up in the green, tree-lined courtyard at Dallas’ beautiful Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens.

Greeting the lovely and handsome young things at the front door was Dreamy the 19-year-old Morgan with her handler Barbara Lewis.

Bethany Voss and Mike Rials

Bethany Voss and Mike Rials

Okay, besides the well-watched television, there was also delicious food—think chicken and biscuit sliders, mini-crab cakes and mint juleps—as well as a silent auction. All the attractions were to help TAG, a group of young professionals who raise funds for the Center for BrainHealth, bring in at least $50,000 for the center’s Alzheimer’s program.

At one point, the guests—among them Jessi Gould, Dr. Alison Percy, Dan Hunt, Harold Scherrell, Scott Caldwell, Mike Rials and Bethany Voss—crowded around the huge TV to watch the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby. As cries of “Go, Nyquist!” were heard from the excited crowd, the race concluded with Nyquist holding off a late surge by Exaggeration to win the derby.

Watching the Run for the Roses

Watching the Run for the Roses

Then it was back to the mini-crab cakes … and many more mint juleps.

“One Of The Country’s Top 10 Party Houses In The World” Was The Setting For KidneyTexas Auction Cocktail Party

Within the uber fundraising season, Thursday take on a new face. But Thursday, May 5, was the super-duper fundraising special.

View from the poolhouse

View from the poolhouse

Dana Nearburg and Martha Tiner

Dana Nearburg and Martha Tiner

Over in Highland Park behind a massive hedge and a glass wall was Dana Nearburg’s award-winning estate. This home-sweet-home has won the Dallas AIA Design Merit Award, Texas Society of Architects honor award, ASLA Landscape Design Award and International Lighting Award, to name a few.

Okay, so there were garages for eleven vehicles, a two-story pool house described as “one of the Top 10 party houses in the world by ‘Architzer Online Magazine,’” and a fabulous pool between the main digs with a glass-skybridge to the guest quarters over one of the garages. But then there were the little touches like the artist studio in the upper level of the pool house and the fountain in the entry of the main house that is also a Jacuzzi. Dana admitted that the idea of the waterworks seemed odd at first, but then it was perfect for those times when her race car driving ex- (Formula One driver Charlie Nearburg) would return from the track and could relax the moment he walked in the door.

Nikki Nole, Remington Reece and McKamy Tiner

Nikki Nole, Remington Reece and McKamy Tiner

The property was open for the KidneyTexas Auction Cocktail Party thanks to Runway Report Chair McKamy Tiner and her mom Martha Tiner, who was an old Highland Park High School chum of Dana’s.  And for once the weather could not have been more perfect for walking the grounds.

Guinn and Betsy Crousen

Guinn and Betsy Crousen

Neighbors like Betsy and Guinn Crousen strolled over from their digs just a block away, while others like Emilynn and Claude Wilson, KidneyTexas President Anna Bland Aston, Nikki Nole with Remington Reece, Megan and Andy Meyercord, Lauryn Gayle White, Natalie Taylor, Terri Massad, Linda and Steve Ivy, Di Johnston, Ramona Jones, Vicki Hill and past KidneyTexas President Therese Rourk and her mom Mary Lee Cox used their wheels to arrive.

Anna Bland Aston

Anna Bland Aston

Among the live auction goodies that auctioneer Louis Murad was collecting bids for were

  • Mesero Margarita Party for Twenty at Mesero on Henderson — Your guests will taste some of their favorite margaritas, sample Herradura tequilas, and enjoy trays of passed bites like slow roasted brisket nachos, tiger shrimp ceviche and some of the best guacamole in the city.
  • Montana Sporting Club Getaway — Experience the best of a private hunting lodge, dude ranch, fly-fishing club and ski resort, in one location. Four nights, five days at The Montana Sporting Club in a luxury log cabin with three bedrooms and two bathrooms that accommodates 6-8 people.
  • Slip away to San Miguel de Allende – Stay four nights in Casa Chiripada del Parque, a sophisticated three bedroom, four bath oasis nestled among stately homes on Juarez Park. Enjoy fine restaurants, galleries, and shopping just steps from your door. Home accommodates up to 6 people.
  • The Masters Championship Package — Masters Championship Round with three nights, double occupancy stay (Friday, April 8, 2017 to Monday April 10, 2017) Master’s Tournament badges for Saturday and Sunday, and two round trip airline tickets to Atlanta.
  • Kentucky Derby Package for two – Enjoy the 2017 Kentucky Derby with Kentucky Oaks Clubhouse Seating on Friday and Saturday, round trip airfare, and hotel accommodations.
  • Argentina Dove Hunt – Head to Cordoba, Argentina to the Five Star Pica Zuro Lodge for four days, three nights. Includes six dove hunts for two hunters; highly trained chefs will provide all meals, wine, beer and spirits – full open bar.
  • Dish Preston Hollow — Four-course dinner with wine pairing for six. Chef and sommelier will tailor to your guests’ tastes and dietary needs.

Can Do Luncheon Patrons Enjoyed A Beautiful Evening At Tucker and Rich Enthoven’s Preston Hollow Estate

The skies were clear, but the local eyes weren’t so lucky. With all types of pollen filling the air, eyes were bloodshot, noses were runny and achoos were the song of the day. Welcome to North Texas. As one doctor once claimed, “If I were starting out, I would have been an allergist in North Texas.” Then doc admitted that the only busier practitioner would have been an allergy specialist in Houston — “Boy have they got their work cut out!”

But on Wednesday, April 27, there was not a cloud in the flawless blue sky. OK, there was a Southwest jet crossing the sky, but still.

Tucker and Rich Enthoven's backyard

Tucker and Rich Enthoven’s backyard

Just the night before the area community had been on standby for all types of scary weather stuff. But on this evening, Tucker and Rich Enthoven’s home-sweet-home and its fabulous grounds could not have been more spectacularly perfect with the tennis court, the pool and elevated terraces.

Sara Melnick Albert, Tucker Enthoven, Regina Montoya and Anne Reeder

Sara Melnick Albert, Tucker Enthoven, Regina Montoya and Anne Reeder

Anne Conner and Susan Phillips

Anne Conner and Susan Phillips

The gathering, which included Anne Conner, Debbie Oates, Linda Perryman Evans and Sara Martineau, was for The Wilkinson Center’s “Can Do Luncheon” patron party. Leslie Diers was doing front door greeting of guests as her mom Cynthia Melnick chatted with guests in the mansion and Leslie’s sister/Luncheon Chair Sara Melnick Alberts was on the terrace talking with Can Do award recipient Regina Montoya and her husband Paul Coggins… Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder was chatting with Susan Phillips about her Shih Tzu’s reactions to the previous night’s thunder and lightning.

But the real subject of the night was the luncheon on Tuesday, May 10, at the Dallas Country Club that will recognize Regina and the North Texas Food Bank that has been such a vital part of The Wilkinson Center’s efforts to help families in need. This luncheon will be the fourth year that The Wilkinson Center has recognized those with the “can-do” spirit.

Dallas Arboretum Women’s Council’s 2016 Mad Hatter’s Tea Ranged From Bounty Of Beauty To Beyond Belief

Not since the war between the States have two groups come face-to-face with such different views. That moment took place at the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum’s 2016 Mad Hatter’s Tea and Luncheon on Thursday, April 21.

Lisa Ogle, Kunthear Mam Douglas and Cathy Vieth

Lisa Ogle, Kunthear Mam Douglas and Cathy Vieth

Robin Carreker

Robin Carreker

On one hand, many guests looked as if they were attending the opening day at the Royal Ascot with dazzling hats. Robin Carreker, Connie Carreker, Hedy Sawyers, Lauren Palmer, Linda Spina, Lisa Ogle and Kunthear Mam Douglas interrupted the “Steel Magnolias” theme with ever-proper sunhats that would have thrilled any Southern belle. Delicate fascinators also had their day in the sun thanks to Women’s Council President Renee Querbes Farren, Betsy Crousen, SuSu Meyers and Britta Harless.

Guinn and Betsy Crousen

Guinn and Betsy Crousen

SuSu Meyer and Ann Dyer

SuSu Meyer and Ann Dyer

On the other hand were those who appeared to have channeled Johnny Depp wearing outlandish headdresses that would have made Lady Gaga go gaga.

For some, the over-the-top toppers were a wee bit daunting. One wide-eyed guest, who hadn’t attended the event since her mother took her ages ago, looking around the Plaza whispered, “I’m scared.” Another one upon entering the scene with lips zipped managed a request — “Please don’t mention I was here.”

Marena Gault, Marielle Gault, Steve Kemble and Sherwood Wagner

Marena Gault, Marielle Gault, Steve Kemble and Sherwood Wagner

As the two brimming groups gathered in the Ginsburg Plaza for a champagne reception with a Cajun band playing, it became apparent that glue guns had been drained leading up to the event. Instead of hiring a professional designer to create her hat, Sherwood Wagner pulled out all the stops and created three showstoppers for herself and her buddies Marena Gault and daughter Marielle Gault.

Appearing to be a walking promotion for Truvy’s beauty parlor, Carmen Surgent was top heavy with rollers, Aqua Net, a hair dryer and mirror, all in Shelby’s signature color of pink.

Carmen Surgent

Carmen Surgent

Barbara Bigham

Barbara Bigham

Barbara Bigham decided to opt out on the day’s theme and went for the bigger-than-life with a story look. With a headdress of fanned peacock feathers atop her head and a matching hand fan, she told how she got the “hat” from a woman in the Amazon.

Patty Jo Turner and her gal squad of faux blondes (Terri Bumgarner, Kim Dale, Suzette Derrick, Nancy McLochlin and Susan Russell) took Dolly Parton’s wisdom to heart — “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”

Terri Bumgarner, Kim Dale, Patty Jo Turner, Suzette Derrick, Nancy McLochlin and Susan Russell

Terri Bumgarner, Kim Dale, Patty Jo Turner, Suzette Derrick, Nancy McLochlin and Susan Russell

 

But it wasn’t a gals-only gathering. No, siree. There were gents dressed to the nines, tens and whatever. Coley Clark, Steve Ivy and Michael Jenkins were on the side of the Plaza watching the ladies champagne-ing their way around and walking the red carpet for judges Gary Riggs, Jane McGarry, Kathy Fielder, Karen Carroll, Robert LeLeux, Matthew Campbell Laurenza, Diane and Daryl Johnston and Andrea Alcorn, who was subbing for Janelle Friedman. The trio was a part of Connie Carreker’s “Southern Gentlemen” lineup of husbands in matching dark suits, white shirts, pocket squares, fedoras and ties who were there to support/escort their wives.

Steve Ivy, Michael Jenkins and Coley Clark

Steve Ivy, Michael Jenkins and Coley Clark

As usual Steve Kemble was a walking garden delight wearing a jacket of magnolia leaves with big, old magnolia epaulets and a towering hat of magnolias and leaves.

And speaking of hats, floral engineer Shane Walker managed to combine Aunt Fern’s creation featuring a giant armadillo appearing to be atop a red-velvet cake; the purse with a baby armadillo peeking out completed the ensemble.

Shane Walker

Shane Walker

Severt Philleo

Severt Philleo

Another head turner was a smiling Severt Philleo opting for the Shirley MacLaine look, complete in heels, blush pink skirt, print blouse, deep pink jacket, white gloves, black chapeau highlighted by a black tulle and deep pink flower and, of course, pearl necklace. And as any proper lady at an outdoor function would, she had additional accessories — a hand fan and sunglasses. Clairee would have been so proud! After all, “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.”

But time demanded that the hats and their underlings leave the sunshine for Rosine Hall and the Tootsies fashion show. With guests shifting in their chairs to see around the hats, the fedora-ed guys were seated on the front row and prepared to help anyone on stage managing the steps up and down from the floor. Emcee/KISS-FM 106.1’s Kellie Rasberry welcomed the group and introduced Renee, who thanked everyone for participating.

Then Mad Hatter’s Chair Jocelyn White welcomed all and told how this fundraiser was the one that had been on her bucket list and thanked individually her “dream team.” She also announced that specially made trays would be presented to the winners of the hat contest and key participants. When Joce tried to present a tray to buddy Linda Gray, the “Dallas” actress couldn’t be found. When someone said she was in the back of the room, the tray was handed to front-row guy Denny Carreker, who took it to the back of the room. Alas, he returned with tray in hand.

Janine Turner

Janine Turner

Jocelyn White

Jocelyn White

As for her friend/actress Janine Turner, Jocelyn provided her with a tray and a tiara.  (“Steel Magnolia” trivia: Janine was in the movie and played Nancy Beth Marmillion, whose character was Miss Merry Christmas.)

With her specs in place, Jocelyn finished with a few words about her life as a true steel magnolia with grandparents who were called Big Mama and Big Daddy.

Tootsies fashion

Tootsies fashion

Tootsies fashion

Tootsies fashion

Tootsies fashion

Tootsies fashion

Next it was fashion showtime, produced by Jan Strimple with the finale complete with dialogue from the movie. It was followed by KLUV 98.7’s Jody Dean conducting the live auction. First up was a gold and lamb clutch in an open package valued at $3,100. As Jody held the gold purse over his head for all to see, it fell from the box to the floor of the stage. Following the laughter, Jody concluded the bidding and handed the errant bag to the top bidder, Sherwood, for a steal — $1,500.

The rest of the live auction went off without a hitch and was followed by the announcement of the hat contest winners.

Barbara Daseke and Barbara Durham

Barbara Daseke and Barbara Durham

Kathy Cothrum's hat

Kathy Cothrum’s hat

M

  • Most True-To-Theme – Barbara Daseke
  • The Southern Belle —  Carmen Surgent
  • Simply Elegant — Patty Dedman Nail
  • Mother Nature Winks — Kathy Cothrum
  • The Social Sorority —  Sherwood Wagner, Marena Gault and Marielle Gault
  • Miss Merry Christmas — Jordi Bostock
  • What Was She Thinking? — Barbara Bigham
  • Best of Show/People’s Choice — Kunthear Mam Douglas

Then all adjourned to the pink-and-white clothed tables overlooking the Arboretum’s gardens to lunch and compare notes on who wore what and why.

For loads more pictures of flowers and flower people, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Carolyn And David Miller Open Their Home For Genesis Luncheon Underwriters With Honeysuckle Wafting In The Backyard

Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Miller

David Miller

David Miller

Blessed by Mother Nature, the Genesis Luncheon underwriters party had the most perfect spot to celebrate on Wednesday, April 20. It was Carolyn and David Miller’s home that many have driven by but few had visited.

Too bad that everyone stayed in the main house because the let-me-settle-backyard was enhanced by the fragrance of the honeysuckle in full bloom.

Carolyn and David Miller's backyard

Carolyn and David Miller’s backyard

Janice Provost and her crew were in the garage cooking up the most delish yummies including itty-bitty sliders served in red gift boxes.

Just before Genesis Executive Director Jan Langbein told the group including Ken Betts, Michael Flores, Ashlee Kleinert, Gail and Gerald Turner, Emilynn and Claude Wilson, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Michael Meadows, Jan Baldwin and Mimi Sterling of things to come, Co-Chair Nancy Rogers arrived to join her Co-Chair Gina Betts.

Gina Betts and Nancy Rogers

Gina Betts and Nancy Rogers

In the dining room, the raffle items were lined up on the dining room table. They looked ripe for the grabbing. Sorry, but the raffle results wouldn’t be announced until the Friday, May 6, luncheon at the Hilton Anatole featuring Tyler Perry.

In addition to Tyler, there’s that challenge that Nancy and her husband Richard Rogers have issued — they’ll match up dollar-for-dollar up to a million dollars in funds raised for the luncheon.