2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Came Off Flawlessly Despite Some Behind-The-Scenes Hiccups

There was the most glorious, huge orange sphere hovering over North Texas on Saturday, June 10. After days of drizzle, lighting and thunder, the skies were pristine. And this was summer!

Over at The Fairmont Dallas, it was equally perfect for the 31st  Annual La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas … except for a needle and thread situation and too many toasts.

Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning

But first the backstory. Overseeing the months of La Fiesta preparations were Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning. Among the committee heads were the Gala Co-Chairs Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson. Those four were known for running a tight ship and still maintaining a smile and cool composure. Each year one of the six flags that had been part of Texas history was selected as the theme. This year it was France, and the ladies were delighted with the theme “La Fete Royal.” They were inspired by the 2017 beneficiaries (C.A.R.E., Connecting Points of Park Cities, The Elisa Project, The Family Place, Friends of University Park Library, Highland Park Education Foundation, Highland Park Literary Festival, HP Arts, HPHS Community Service Council, HPHS Counseling Department and Student Council, HPHS Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, HPHS Science Festival, HPHS Student Emergency Fund, HPHS Youth and Government/Moody Family YMCA and Park Cities Heritage House at Dallas Heritage Village) to raise the funds.

Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson

But hiccups happen even to the best.

The first one was a real hit. The Anatole had to pull out from holding the event due to a convention or something. Anne and Michelle put out calls and locked down The Fairmont. The smiles said it turned out to work with the French theme, since The Fairmont was French-owned.

But Anne, who will be overall co-chair with Elizabeth Gambrell for 2018, reported that not only would they be returning to the Anatole, but the Anatole team came through this year with additional staging without a charge or hesitation.  

As for the relocation, it required some adjustments. The tried-and-true, 17,967-square-foot Fairmont Regency Ballroom just didn’t have as much space as the 30,360-square-foot Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom. So sacrifices had to be made. The number one was the dance floor, which meant no post-presentation dance for the couples. Another issue was accommodating all who wanted to attend. The tables of black-tie guests were downright cozy.

But it was all coming together. After all, it was the first time that the Duchesses, who had just finished their freshman year in college, were able to see former high school classmate. It was like a black-tie class reunion.

However, the mammoth group pictures that were to be taken in the ballroom as parents and friends cocktailed in the adjoining lobby ran into a bump in the road. Photographer James French and his team were already with cameras in hand. The ladder was set dead center at the end of the runway. The idea of photographing 40 Duchesses in ball gowns and their escorts was a daunting challenge. But James and his folks were old hands at this situation.

2017 Duchesses and escorts waiting for the final four

However, it seemed that not all the Duchesses and escorts realized this wasn’t a casual selfie. There was a schedule to be kept. The escort group photo was delayed by five minutes due to some MIA escorts. Next, the group photo of all 40 Duchesses and their 40 escorts was on the list. Only when the headcount took place, four Duchesses were missing. It seems they were “being sewn into their gowns.” Five minutes passed, then 10. The couples that had stood so erect for the photo setup were now seated on the stage. The clock kept ticking, and still the foursome was missing. Evidently one designer was responsible for all four dresses. When James was asked if they should go ahead and shoot the photo without the four, the presentation photo vet knew just the right answer: “That’s not my call.”

Napkin with honey bee ornament

Still they waited. Finally, just minutes before the ballroom doors opened, the tardy Duchesses arrived to applause by the 76.

Quickly, the group photo and the Duchesses’-only photo were taken. James removed the ladder and just in time, as the doors to the ballroom opened and the chimes called all 900 guests to their seats, where they discovered elegant place settings with napkins tied in bows and topped off with French symbolic honey bee ornaments.

Eliza Parker, Jackson Parker and Gwen and Doug Parker

Rick and Allison Kraft and Angela and Brad Cheves

Jack Gosnell and Ellison Gosnell

Around the room were the Parker clan (Gwen and Doug Parker with their kids Eliza Parker and Jackson Parker) to see son Luke Parker escorting Lillian Cockerell, Angela and Brad Cheves were on hand for son/escort Conner Cheves, who was escorting Duchess Sarah Unkefer, Leslie and Jack Gosnell were front-rowing it for daughter/Duchess Ellison Gosnell. Was it really that long ago that Jack had been the escort pick of the debutante crowd?

Rock Le Minuette

Rock Le Minuette

The presentation started off with the escorts parading from the back of the ballroom via the runway to their places on the stage. Then a couple arrived on stage dressed in 18th century French attire and started performing “Rock Le Minuette,” starting with an elegant Baroque  with the escorts in the background. Suddenly, the mood changed with the male assisting the young woman out of her billowing skirt revealing long legs encased in fishnet stockings. The tempo picked up and so did the couple as the gent picked her up on his shoulder and whirled around. Still the escorts stood solemnly. 

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas escorts

After a brief welcome by Rebecca and Nancy, the escorts (Nick Alexander, Paxton Baird, Grayson Borrego, Henry  Bould, Watson Brown, Christopher Buell Jr., Harrison Buford, Ty Burke Jr., William Caldwell, Kevin Cassidy, Conner Cheves, JD Cochran, Cole Ellis, Robert Farrow, Vale Fitzpatrick IV, Stanton Geyer, Thomas Glieber, Chase Govett, Garrett Hall, Bobby Hrncir, Cade Kimzey, William Kraft V, Parker Lacour, Mitchell Laughlin, Spencer Lorio, Jack Martin III, Hoyt Matise, Charles Mencke III, Wade Nicolas III, Charlie O’Brien, Austin Overton, Luke Parker, Adam Rathjen, Turner Rejebian, Barton Showalter, Benjamin Smith, Zach Snelling, Sam Stewart, Matthew Vandermeer and Hunt Wood Jr.) were individually introduced and exited. Then the formal presentation took place, with eight Duchesses being introduced on their fathers’ arm. As each of the 40 Duchesses (Emily Anwar, Clara Beecherl, Elizabeth Bradshaw, Kate Brayshaw, Laura Brayshaw, Anna Buford, Jeanne Ann Bullington, Helena Burns, Ellie Bush, Keaton Calhoun, Emily Carvell, Lillian Cockerell, Annie Combs, Elizabeth Cooper, Katie Dalton, Elizabeth DeBeer, Fields Dunston, Maddie Fehlman, Ellison Gosnell, Claire Green, Kristen Haggerty, Elizabeth Hubbard, Shanley Huckabee, Savanna Jones, Hannah Jurgensmeyer, Kendall Klingaman, Lane McCormick, Alexandra McGeoch, Caroline McGeoch, Dorothy Meachum, Clare Obenchain, Caroline Robertson, Avery Roosien, Peyton Schlachter, Madison Stuart, Madison Tedford, Madeline Toole, Sarah Unkefer, Emily Weisfeld and Erica Yaguchi) walked the runway, emcee Al Raya described her duchy.

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses

It came off without a hitch on stage.

Jeanne Anne Bullington and Michael Bullington

Elizabeth DeBeer and Bob DeBeer

Claire Green and Arthur Green

Sam Dalton and Katie Dalton

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the same in the audience. During the early part of the presentation, the guests were quiet to hear the narration and to watch the deep bows. However, by the fourth round of eight couples, some adults had been fueled by trips to the bar, resulting in their returning to their tables and sounding oblivious that there were still Duchesses being announced. A couple of gals were feeling no pain as they greeted friends at a nearby table loud enough that the announcer couldn’t be heard.

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses and escorts

But the Duchesses and escorts soldiered on, concluding with all 80 on stage for a final bravo. They then joined their families and friends for a seated dinner, followed by dancing and a “late-night party” in the International Ballroom.

However, some of the honorees didn’t quite make it to the International Ballroom. It seems that the day’s activities may have gotten the best of one or two of them. It surely couldn’t have been due to imbibing, though, since organizers had stated in the program, “It is unlawful to serve alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of twenty-one. Valid identification will be required.”

For more than 50 photos of the Duchesses and guests, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

April 10 Round Robin: Equest, C.A.R.E. Luncheon, Family Compass, Crystal Charity Ball And Girls Inc.

Wednesday, April 10, only revved up the action requiring field reports to be sent in from all parts. It started off early with cold, wet weather that only got colder and wetter as the day wore on. But never fear. The fundraisers are hearty types, who don’t let such trivial things as raindrops and chattering teeth hold them back.

Equest

Think January chill and rain. Only change the date to April 10. But the brave fashionables trekked to Highland Park Village to see the latest handiwork of couture designer Carolina Hererra.

Val Kilmer and Carolina Herrera

Val Kilmer and Carolina Herrera

With hands on her stylish hips, she welcomed one and all including Val Kilmer, who was in town prepping for his “Citizen Twain” at the Wyly Theatre (April 8-21). With a natty blue ascot and blue blazer, he looked like a man with a mission. Already he’d been on KLUV’s Jody Dean‘s radio show and visited the gals on D Broadcast. Now, he was braving the elements to see his friends Carolina and Jennifer.

As the umbrella stand toppled over and the gent hauling raincoats to the backroom scurried faster and faster, the Carolina Hererra boutique filled. Someone raised an eyebrow and said, “Don’t think we have enough chairs.” Shoot! It was just going to be a quickie fashion show, not an all-day seminar.

Bernadette Schaeffler, Jennifer Houser, Rebecca Lutz, Tiffany Divis

Bernadette Schaeffler, Jennifer Houser, Rebecca Lutz, Tiffany Divis

In addition to Hererra fashion, the call for attendees has been put out by Equest Fashion Show Chair Tiffany Divis and Underwriting Chair Jennifer Houser.

Ah, but let’s talk about the night before. Val had dined with Jennifer and her husband Doug. They’re old buds. As for Carolina, she had been feted by Heather and Ray Washburne plus din-din at HP Village Mi Cocina, of course.

But despite the night before’s wining and dining, the celebs looked totally fresh. Val was charming and accommodating for each photo request. Carolina was especially gracious, but there does get to be a point when a flash can get old, don’t you know.

As the chill entered each time the front door opened, the guests moved farther and farther to the back of the store.

With chairs back-to-back along the store’s center aisle, the ladies used their purses to reserve their seats.

Carolina Hererra's long flowing gowns

Carolina Hererra’s long flowing gowns

Once the show began, it was revealed that Hererra designs still have a flirty, feminine look and feel.

Many of the evening gowns were highlighted by trains and a bit of extra hems. One poor model managed to catch herself as her shoe stepped on the skirt causing to nearly topple. Yes, she caught herself on her entry, but nearly fell for the same situation as she headed back to the dressing room.

 C.A.R.E. Luncheon

David Sheff and Terry Bentley Hill

David Sheff and Terry Bentley Hill*

Despite the cold and the rain, almost 100 people attended the Heart to Heart Luncheon hosted by Enterhealth benefiting C.A.R.E.! Dr. Harold Urschel spoke and author David Sheff talked about his personal story with his son Nic‘s addiction, and then went on to speak about his research into addiction  — the third leading cause of death in America today. David spoke of health care costs, the struggle to find the right comprehensive treatment, the myths about drug addicts and the notion of waiting until people hit “their rock bottom” being a dangerous one, often with fatal consequences.

Karen Wong, Paula McLeod, Kate Alpert Cavanaugh, Pam Blankenship and Jan Osborn

Karen Wong, Paula McLeod, Kate Alpert Cavanaugh, Pam Blankenship and Jan Osborn*

According to CARE Chairman of the Board Jan Osborn, who had arranged for David’s appearance, “My favorite thing that David said was that ‘addiction is a preventable, treatable disease, not a moral failing.’ He gave an update on Nic who he said is living his dream. He is writing for the AMC original series “The Killings” and his first teenage novel has been pick up by a publisher.

“David did a live interview on KERA  Tuesday. Then he spoke to parents at HPISD. Lastly, he stood outside The Lumen at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night and signed 100 books out of the back of my car.  We were to dang tired to haul them inside sign and haul back out to the car. What a trooper!

“One other cool fact — David’s new book came out on April 2 and was number 10 on the NY Times Bestselling list.”

A Legendary Evening Kick-Off

A little later in the day, about 60 people turned up at Boca Chica for a patron party highlighting the 19th annual gala benefiting Family Compass, “A Legendary Evening.”

Jessica Slie Trudeau, Brynn Bagot, Amy Camp and Michelle Meadows

Jessica Slie Trudeau, Brynn Bagot, Amy Camp and Michelle Meadows

Formerly the Celebrity Waiter Gala, the new fundraiser is scheduled for May 4 at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas, with Diane and Daryl Johnston as honorary celebrity chairs, Kelly Compton as the Spirit of Compassion Award Honoree, and Dale Hansen as the emcee. Co-chairs are Brynn Bagot Allday, Amy Camp and Michelle Meadows.

Diane and Daryl Johnston

Diane and Daryl Johnston

At Boca Chica, a newish tequila and tapas bar in the Shops at Park Lane, one of the “legends”—Martha Tiller—showed up sans husband David, who was home recovering from knee-replacement surgery. Daryl J. was waxing optimistic about a big new deal he’s hoping to ink soon for his artificial-turf company. And Shelle Bagot said she’s just been “enjoying life” since stepping down from her post at the downtown Neiman’s, lunching with a different person every day.

Jessica Trudeau, Family Compass executive director, said the group is aiming to net $120,000 from the “Legendary Evening” event. Last year, their Celebrity Waiter Gala netted $110,000.

Crystal Charity Ball Advisory Board/Beneficiaries Reception

Tucker and Rich Enthoven

Tucker and Rich Enthoven

Meantime, the magnificent home of Tucker and Rich Enthoven was the setting for a Crystal Charity Ball party honoring the group’s advisory board and 2013 beneficiaries.

Alicia and Scott Wood

Alicia and Scott Wood

Planned mainly by Alicia Wood and Tricia George, the gathering boasted high-profile guests including Brent Christopher, Fred Hegi, Ralph Babb and Shannan Pratt. Shannan, of sponsor Capital One Bank, said he was pinch-hitting for the bank’s top Texas exec Kent Eastman, who “got stuck in another city.”

Shannan Pratt

Shannan Pratt

As guests enjoyed light bites provided by Party Maker and prepared to hear thank-you remarks by CCB Chair Caren Kline, Rich slipped away to give a quick tour of the Enthovens’ 8-year-old manse. Inspired by Rich’s parents’ home in Palo Alto, Calif., the Southwest-meets-Morocco abode featured a sprawling interior as well as tennis courts and a putting green. We especially appreciated the “laundry hanging on a line” scene embedded in the metal grillwork, a nod to the family’s Kwick Wash Laundries business.

Rich said the place is also in a pretty good neighborhood, with the likes of Mark Cuban, Roger Staubach and T. Boone Pickens all within shouting distance. He hasn’t asked to borrow a cup of sugar from any of them yet.

Girls Inc.

Nancy “Lady Magic” Lieberman, Basketball Hall of Famer, two-time Olympian, broadcaster, motivational speaker, author, and the first female coach of a men’s team under the NBA umbrella, wowed mothers and daughters along with a few good fathers and sons at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science Wednesday when she spoke about “Becoming the Best of the Best:  How Girls Rise Above the Competition” for the benefit of Girls Inc.

Leaving the Women’s Final Four tournament in New Orleans at 4 am to make the trip to Dallas, Lieberman saluted fellow women athlete participants North Texas Olympic shot-put athlete Michelle Carter and the “400 M Diva” and track star Natasha Hastings and then told the audience how she started playing basketball. 

“As a 12 year old Jewish girl in New York, she said, “I would sneak a couple of dollars and slip off on the subway to Harlem to play basketball with the boys there because I had heard they were the best.  You can imagine the expressions on their faces when this little red headed white girl showed up.  AND you can imagine the expression on my Mother’s face when these boys come home with me.”

In a rally of encouragement to the girls in the audience, Nancy reminded them, “We are generation now, but we have a chance to affect generation next” as she spoke in the Perot Museum’s Sports Hall of Fame where she is featured.

In the audience Girls Inc. CEO Lori Palmer,  series chairman Val Lawler, Junior League representatives Laura Weigler and Erin O’Brien, Laura Ryan, Dr. Scherry Johnson, Melissa Stevens, Victoria Hernandez, Carlos Hernandez, Roni Jackson, Madi Jacob, Mary Russell, Courtey Sarian, Celina Lopez-Parra and daughter Alyson Parra.

The third and final lecture of the 2013 series, “Igniting Female Teams to High Performance” presented by Katie Filkins, Ph.D., is being held April 30th at the Communities Foundation of Texas.  

Before leaving, Nancy had young Alyson Parra and Lori Palmer among others spinning a basketball on their index fingers.

Hosted by Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas as part of its 2nd Annual Girls Inc. Lecture Series:  What is a Girl?, the 2013 series is in collaboration with the Junior League of Dallas.

* Photos provided by C.A.R.E.