Wilkinson Center’s Spirit Of Taos Returns To Melissa Benge Collection For A Kick-Off Party With Boots And News Galore

Melissa Benge Collection boots

Melissa Benge Collection boots

The Friends of Wilkinson Center’s Spirit of Taos was such a successful kickoff last year at Melissa Benge Collection, they did a repeat on Wednesday, September 21. It’s no wonder. With boots, turquoise, suede coats, belts, saddles, leather goods and silver buckles, the shop seemed to have brought the best parts of Taos to the Knox-Henderson neighborhood.

Melissa Benge Collection leather, silver and turquoise accessories

Melissa Benge Collection leather, silver and turquoise accessories

This year the Benge crew upped the ante by giving guests 10% off of all merchandise, donating 10% of all the evening’s proceeds to Wilkinson Center and providing guests like Anne Conner, Liz Stutts, OJ DeSouza, Michael Cooley, Emily Dunn, Sandra Pomeroy, Joe Acosta and Gary Stevener with “a decorative coffee mug from Melissa Benge Collection and a jar of La Casita Award Winning salsa as a takeaway gift.”

Anne Reeder, Missy Huber and Millie Winston

Anne Reeder, Missy Huber and Millie Winston

Evidently nobody cared when the official start time was. Everybody was there except Wilkinson Center PR gal Vodi Cook. Alas, the dedicated blonde Vodi’s recent demolition derby of a car crunch had resulted in her left arm going under the knife to repair damaged ligaments from just above the elbow to her wrist. Gee! The good news is that Vodi is right-handed.

And despite holding up bravely at the Kidney Texas lunch the day before, Vodi was not up to snuff for the Spirit KO. Luckily, Wilkinson Center’s Executive Director Anne Reeder was on hand to answer any questions.

One question hitting Anne that had absolutely nothing to do with Wilkinson was the bulldozers demolishing the former Steakley dealership at the corner of Abrams and Northwest Highway. She recalled the 1960s when most of Dallas thought anything north of the Park Cities was Oklahoma. It was at that time some very brave entrepreneurs saw the city’s future lying along Northwest Highway. While the late Ray Nasher was building NorthPark Center, Anne’s dad, the late John Steakley, built a well-known and successful Chevrolet dealership on the property where a pony ride operation had been. And while the family sold the property years ago, most locals still refer to it as the Steakley property.

Meridith Zidell, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix

Meridith Zidell, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix

But Anne quickly recovered from the good old days memories and told how Stephanie Taylor, Sloan Looney Dix and Meridith Zidell would chair Spirit on Friday, October 28. And, yes, it will return to The Lot just across the street from White Rock. Joining the hoop-la will be Honorary Co-Chair Steve & Cathy Saxon. And, of course, the raffle will have everything including jewelry, dining opportunities, trips and art.

A couple of the very tip-top items are

  • Taos Bling (Value: One of a kind!) — For anyone who loves Taos, they’ve just got to have turquoise  and silver in their jewel box along with their diamonds. But then one can simply never have enough of the good stuff. So “Dallas jeweler Beyond Baroque will deck you out with diamonds and turquoise: turquoise and diamond earrings, turquoise discs interspersed between silver chain necklace with vintage bone pendant accented with pave diamond heading, and collection of stackable turquoise and diamond bracelets. According to Vodi, “We thought Taos Bling would be a great item to feature since all the ladies who attend the event wear their turquoise and pave diamonds.”
  • Cookin’ With Sibby (Value: $1,200) — Unlike the usual dining-out package, how about something totally new and not in your zip code? Longtime Wilkinson Center supporter/creative maven Sibby Barrett will whip up a dinner for four guests at Onion Creek Kitchens at the Hill Country’s Juniper Hills Farm in Blanco. And since it’ll be a full night of dining and wining, the guests won’t have to scurry back to Big Old D. Sibby has arranged for a one-night stay in “two charming cottages.”
Steve and Cathy Saxon

Steve and Cathy Saxon

The Spirit of Taos is one of those events where boots, turquoise and jeans are so at home that you wish it went on for a couple of days.

Tickets/sponsorships range from $150 for outdoor tickets to $8,000 that includes premium covered seating for a table for eight.

Melissa Benge Sets The Mood For Spirit Of Taos Kick-Off Party With Cactus Cupcakes And Fashionable Goodies

Melissa Benge, Missy Huber Hall and Anne Reeder

Melissa Benge, Missy Huber Hall and Anne Reeder

The North Henderson neighborhood on a Thursday is the place not to be if you’re in a rush. The popularity of the restaurants, bars and stores is pretty darn overwhelming. That’s why some might have questioned having a kick-off party on that particular day of the week.

Cactus cupcakes

Cactus cupcakes

But the draw of The Wilkinson Center’s Spirit of Taos at Melissa Benge Collection on Thursday, September 10, was just too great. Their reward was multiple.

For the evening owner Melissa Benge had parking spaces aside the shop and valets to handle any parking trepidations.

Inside, the 50 guests discovered wonderful things. From the “cactus” looking cupcakes on a tiered tray to the vintage collectibles and chic western attire, it was eye candy for shoppers.

In fact Wilkinson Center CEO Anne Reeder questioned Wilkinson Center Vodi Cook on why it was every time she turned around Vodi was in a different attire. Vodi’s answer was, people kept buying the Melissa Benge clothes off her back.

Emily Dunn, Cindy Zahn Weed, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix

Emily Dunn, Cindy Zahn Weed, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix

Among those checking out the merchandise were Event Co-Chairs Sloan Looney Dix and Stephanie Taylor and Honorary Co-Chairs Emily Dunn and Cindy Weed.

When asked about the annual Can Do! Lunch, Anne fessed up that it was still in the planning stage. But before decisions were made, The Wilkinson Center had to focus on the Silent Disco the next night and the Spirit of Taos that will be held on Friday, October 23, at The Lot.

If you’re interested in a casual Taos-feel evening and haven’t been to The Lot across from White Rock, get your ticket. Course, it doesn’t hurt that it benefits one of East Dallas’ treasures — The Wilkinson Center.