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Party Scene

June 12, 2016

The Party: Guests celebrated the conclusion of the Spoleto Festival USA 2016 season beneath a clear blue sky at Middleton Plantation. Sprawled out on blankets, lawn chairs, beach recliners, and even a pizza float, attendees made themselves comfortable as they sipped cocktails from High Wire’s signature Hat Trick gin and listened to tunes from popular local acts The High Divers, Jordan Igoe, and SUSTO. The gardens, blooming with lush greenery, welcomed families, couples, and kids to get lost in the historic antebellum property. As the afternoon faded into dusk, Nathaniel Ratecliff & the Night Sweats took the stage, matching the crowds enthusiastic energy with every note. 

Highlight: Spoleto Festival 2016 went out with a bang, literally, as celebratory fireworks exploded across the sky. 

Overheard: ”I could totally be one of the Night Sweats!”—a festivalgoer joked about the stifling afternoon heat.

Beneficiary: Spoleto Festival USA

May 7, 2016

The Party: Sixty-three teams from Charleston and the surrounding area participated in the ninth annual Dragon Boat Charleston Festival, raising more than $180,000 for cancer survivors. Each team consisted of 20 paddlers and one drummer and raced in three heats between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Between races, paddlers enjoyed food truck fare from Wild Wieners, King of Pops, Triple R Brisket Wagon, Happy Thai Food Truck, Carolina Corn, and Charleston Chicken. The party lasted well into the early evening as festival-goers hula-hooped, line-danced, and ordered up at the ”name your own price” margarita bar. The Folly Beach Wahines took home first place overall, the PGF Paddlers took home second place, and the SCPA Ship Happens finished in third. 

Highlight: Executive director Meagan Labriola announced that the survivor ceremony would be renamed ”To the Spirit of Sylvia Suvivor Celebration” to honor the memory of Dragon Boat Charleston legend, Syvlia Huskey, who passed away in April 2016.  

Overheard: ”Watch out for ’What the Truck’!” —A paddler leapt out of the way of the fun committee’s decked-out golf cart, aptly named, ”What the Truck.”

Beneficiary: Dragon Boat Charleston 

May 7, 2016

The Party: The South Carolina Aquarium hosted a special celebration highlighting its educational programs that reach more than 30,000 school children statewide each year. After cocktails in and outside the aquarium, guests moved to Liberty Square, where they enjoyed a multi-course dinner from Cru Catering. An InterTech Group awards ceremony honored the work of seven South Carolina schoolteachers, along with Beth Demas, the aquarium’s distance-education programs coordinator. Beverly Wise, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, accepted the 2016 Environmental Stewardship Award for Visionary STEM Leadership. An after-affair followed on the Bluestone patio, with dessert and music from 17 South. 

Highlight: During cocktail hour, guests got up-close-and-personal with several aquarium creatures—from jellyfish in a portable tank to a baby alligator and two snakes. 

Overheard: “King Louis is nonvenomous and native to South Carolina. You can often tell if a snake is nonvenomous because it’ll have a smaller head. This guy’s a good one to have in your garden—he’ll eat other snakes.” —Jamie Thom, aquarium education staff member 

Beneficiary: More than $268,000 was raised for the South Carolina Aquarium’s education programs.

May 14, 2016

The Party: Beneath a sizzling summer sun, guests meandered through The Grove at Patriot’s Point for a day of eating, drinking, and dancing at the fifth annual Charleston Beer Garden for Lowcountry AIDS Services. Food trucks—including Avila Venezuelan Cuisine, The Barbeque Joint, Caribbean Creole, and Big-Boned Barbeque—circled the park. The main attrractions, of course, were the 20-some regional breweries serving guests cold three-ounce samples. As crowds sipped their beer, they swayed along to the music of DJ Trail Mix, King Sing, Andy Masker Band, and The Dubplates.

Highlight: Local homebrewers gathered in the Homebrewer’s Village, proudly offering samples of their unique beers to a crowd of thirsty guests; several competed in a homebrewing competition. 

Overheard (a lot): “Cheers!”

Beneficiary: Lowcountry AIDS Services

May 27, 2016

The Party: Memorial Waterfront Park served as the scenic backdrop for the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association’s Taste of Gullah event. Attendees indulged in Gullah-inspired dishes such as savory stewed chicken, pan-made crab cakes, and Hoppin’ John while the Secrets Band cranked out an array of lively classics. Later, Gullah Geechee expert Emory Campbell addressed the crowd before a special ”Passing on the Traditions” ceremony took place. Attendees also participated in a live auction and bid on beautiful items such as the 2016 Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival featured basket by Helen Burns and a treasured “Passing on the Traditions” doll by Virginia Watson.

Highlight: An Afrocentric fashion show highlighted Gullah fashions and sweetgrass accessories. 

Overheard: “Can I have a second helping?”

Beneficiary: 2016 Sweetgrass Basket-Making Summer Camp

May 13th, 2016

The Party: Donning glittery gowns and dashing suits, guests mingled over canapés and cocktails before moving into the Charleston Area Convention Center ballroom for a dinner, a live auction, and an evening of great performances. Local celebrities, paired with professional dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studio, vied for the winning title. Event chairs and alumni dancers also performed while votes were tallied bakstage. Kathy Richter Downey, co-founder of social club McKee's at 139B, took home the sparkling disco ball trophy as the 2016 Oxygen Ball winner.

Highlight: The crowd went wild when Dwayne M. Green and his dance partner, Galina Maiduc, performed "The Charleston.”

Overheard: “I’d like to tell my competitors, ‘Don’t do well and let me do better!’” —Kathy Richter Downey, before taking the stage

Beneficiary: American Lung Association 

May 19, 2016

The Party: Bourbon-lovers and cigar aficionados came together for a luxurious evening of food, fundraising, and plenty of drink-sipping at the historic William Aiken house. The event raised money for Maryland-based non-profit Positive-Strides.org, an organziation that advocates, educates, and supports injured youth athletes and their families.

Highlight: Guests sported all manner of bow tie styles—from peacock and pheasant feathers to rustic carved wood. 

Overheard: ”You wouldn’t think to put bacon and cake together but these (chocolate bacon cake pops) are amazing!”

Benefeciary: Positive-Strides.org

 

May 21, 2016

 

The Party: A week before the Gibbes Museum of Art’s grand reopening, locals and featured artists gathered to celebrate the beautiful top-to-bottom renovation and restoration, including the sparkling Tiffany-style glass dome and century-old original tile floors. At the beginning of the evening, guests were treated to a curator-led tour of the various galleries (including one of the largest miniature portrait collections in the country) and the artists’ studios. Attendees were then seated in the Fellows Member Reception Hall for a (far shorter) but sweet perfomance of Porgy and Bess, featuring music by pianist Lydia Brown and operatic sopranos Alyson Cambridge (who plays Bess in Spoleto Festival USA’s production) and Indra Thomas (who plays Serena). Dinner was served in the Campbell Rotunda, followed by dessert and dancing, with live entertainment provided by Julep Jazz Band. 

Highlight: Jonathan Green, who is responsible for the artistic vision and design behind Spoleto Festival USA’s production of Porgy and Bess, was in attendance.

Overheard: “It’s a story that will bring you to absolute tears.”—museum member discussing the Charleston-born opera 

Beneficiary: Gibbes Museum of Art

The Party: Guests popped a cork for Spoleto Festival USA's 40th season in The Dewberry, the hotel overlooking Marion Square. After the Spoleto 40th Season Celebration Concert, partygoers made their way into the renovated mid-century building described by owner John Dewberry as “Southern reimagined.” These Spoleto patrons glided through the sparkling sheens of the elegant ballroom, lobby, patio, and lounge while toasting the arts festival with champagne and Spoleto-inspired cocktails like the vodka-based “Spoleto Spritz.”

Highlight: The soirée was the first event to be held in the hotel, making attendees part of an exclusive group. With The Dewberry’s grand opening not scheduled until June 9, the hotel had to receive specific certification to host the festival bash for the night.

Overheard: “It’s more than just a hotel. It’s a vision.”

Beneficiary: Spoleto Festival USA

The Party: “Let it grow, let it grow” seemed to be the motto for the 7th annual Southeastern Beard and Moustache Championship hosted by the Holy City Beard and Moustache Society at Music Farm. Companies such as Wild Hare Jack-A-Lope, Roughneck Beard Co., One DTQ, The Mail Room Barber Co., and more set up booths to sell oils and beard balms for styling and taming wild whiskers. Beard growers and partygoers from all over the country came together for a night of friendly (and hairy!) competition.

Highlight: Eric Schmitt-Matzen, otherwise known as “Santa”, stole the show when he won the Salty Dog category—“a gray beard of distinguished mature gentlemen.”

Overheard: “Raise your glass, for members are strong, and whiskers are long!” 

Beneficiary: Lowcountry Women with Wings and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Charleston  

May 12, 2016

The Party: For the seventh annual Gibbes on the Street party, guests were transported to the heart of China’s Forbidden City, where 27 top area restaurants served inventive small bites including dishes like octopus kimchi, kung pao chicken, and crab fried rice. Partygoers crowded the street in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art for this year’s sold-out event, donning all manner of Eastern-themed apparel. All proceeds from the event benefit the Gibbes, which reopens May 28 after nearly two years of renovations.

Highlight: Taiko Charleston drummers beat wildly on their drums as a “dragon” snaked and swerved through the crowded street. 

Overheard: “You're my hero!”—guests were star-struck when they realized that top chefs like Sean Brock, Michelle Weaver, and Jacques Larson were serving their own dishes. 

Beneficiary: The Gibbes Museum of Art 

April 28, 2016

The Party: Spoleto SCENE (Support Connect Experience Network Enjoy) is an arts-loving group of Spoleto Festival USA patrons in their 20s and 30s who support the Festival through affordable gift levels. SCENE hosted a Spoleto season kick-off party feauturing numerous local vendors and popular deejay, DJ Rehab. Guests sipped on cocktails from Bar Mash, The Westendorff, The Rooftop at Vendue, and Cathead Vodka, and enjoyed hors d'ouevres from Bohemian Bull, Hamby Catering, Poogan’s Smokehouse, The Drawing Room, and Cirsea Ice Cream.  

Highlight: Networking was made enjoyable as partygoers congregated around food and drink vendors and met new acquaintances through co-workers and friends. 

Overheard:  I better see you on the dance floor!” 

Beneficiary: Spoleto Festival USA

The Party: The Sophia Institute, a center of learning founded 15 years ago by Carolyn Rivers, provides programs and retreats that promote wisdom and mindfulness for a more sustainable world. The center hosted Ellen Burstyn, beloved Acadaemy Award-winning actress, advocate, and storyteller, for a talk followed by a garden reception and book signing. Burstyn shared several stories and poems that touched upon ideas of human potential, empathy, honesty, integrity, and forgiveness. After the talk, audience members were invited to participate in a Q & A session. A reception in the green space adjacent to Memminger Auditorium followed; guests enjoyed wine from Mira Winery and hors d'oeuvres from Fork Catering. 

Highlight: Burstyn signed copies of her book, Lessons in Becoming Myself, and chatted with gleeful admirers. 

Overheard: “It’s funny that this has gotten to be the place where I bring my lessons.”—Burstyn on her love of the Sophia Institute and the city of Charleston. 

Beneficiary: The Sophia Institute

By Hooper Schultz

The Party: An enthusiastic crowd gathered on a beautiful day to celebrate Lowcountry Local First's biggest fundraiser of the year, the 9th annual Chef's Potluck. More than 20 local chefs—including Craig Deihl of Cypress and Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh—served up small plates for hungry attendees, using ingredients graciously donated by Lowcountry farmers. Guests sipped drinks from purveyors such as Firefly Distillery, Palmetto Brewing, Grassroots Wine Wholesalers, COAST Brewing, and Cannonborough Beverage Co. After the feast, Lowcountry Local First staff led a charity auction that raised $10,000 for the organization's Growing New Farmers progam.  

Highlight: The Garage Cuban Band, led by bassist and frontman Jonathan Gray, entertained guests all afternoon. 

Overheard: “Wow, the best weather on the best day. And a strawberry-bourbon milkshake doesn't hurt!"—Renee Singletary 

Beneficiary: Lowcountry Local First

The Party: Memminger Auditorium was transformed into a South American oasis for the 19th annual Charleston Heart Ball. For the first two hours, guests enjoyed an alfresco cocktail reception around two “tiki” bars, brightly colored tall tables, and flamingo statues. Guests were then led inside for a seated three-course dinner, served by catering company Mosaic. WCBD News 2 anchors Carolyn Murray and Brendan Cark emceed the event and 2016 chairman Chris Randoph thanked guests for coming out to support the American Heart Association. Guests were given boas and hats to wear, and bidders participated in a spirited live auction for prizes including a Belize getaway, a cocktail party for 50 courtesy of Snynder Events, Mosaic Catering, and Sea Breeze Marina, a london blue topaz and diamond ring courtesy of Skatell's, and artwork from artists Karen Larson Turner, Laura Lloyd Fontaine, and Dee Beard Dean.

Highlight: The 2016 Open Your Heart honorees, Frank, Jamie, and Charles Anderson Kerr had the audience in tears as they told Charles' story. Born with a rare and complex congenital heart defect, the Kerr’s son had to undergo a six-hour surgery to save his life. Wearing a miniature tux and pink bowtie, the toddler delighted and inspired guests with his happy smile.

Overheard: “Get a picture of me with the parrot—wait, are those real?” (a surprised guest posed next to a life-like stuffed parrot inside the event). 

Beneficiary: American Heart Association

The Party: Despite less than perfect weather, hordes of plant-lovers came out for the Charleston Horticultural Society’s 15th annual Plantasia Eve Party. Guests were able to peruse (and purchase) plants of all kinds at the event’s new expansive and verdant location, West Ashley’s Old Towne Creek County Park. Salthouse Catering played to theme and served up a fresh and decadent “best of season” display with roasted asparagus, mustard braised cauliflower, seasonal sliced fruits and veggies, sweet potato ham biscuits, and more. Guests enjoyed special “Plantasia” cocktails by Firefly and tunes by Charleston-based bluegrass band YeeHaw Junction. An hour into the festivities, four gardening masters competed in an Iron Trowel competition. Winner Carol Poloski received an iron trowel from the Philip Simmons Blacksmith Guild for her beautiful windowbox design.

Highlight: George Hyams, owner of Hyams Garden Center, was celebrated as the Guest of Honor and presented with a plaque for his tireless efforts to preserve and better the Charleston horticultural community. Landscape architect Sheila Wertimer made a heartfelt speech for her longtime friend and colleague: “The Charleston Horticultural Society would not be where it is today without him.”

Overheard: “How many succulents are too many succulents?”

Beneficiary: Charleston Horticultural Society

By: Grae Adair

April 2, 2016

The Party:

The Charleston Animal Society transformed the Gaillard Center into a glamorous, old Hollywood dream to launch it's new initiative, Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund. Guests donning 1930s black-tie apparel were greeted on the red carpet with signature cocktails like the Firefly Furry and the ManCATtan. Attendees danced to beach and soul classics perfomed by In The Pocket and snacked on hearty hors d'oeuvres provided by Stephen Duvall Catering. Charleston Animal Society CEO Joe Elmore later introduced special guest, pit bull Caitlyn, and spoke on behalf of Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund and its mission to help prevent, investigate, and prosecute animal abuse cases. Guests were ushered to a surprise after-party, a Speakeasy-style cocktail bar in the next room. An aerial dancer swung high above the bar to greet on-lookers and those testing their luck at the blackjack tables. 

Highlight:

Guest of honor, Caitlyn, the pit bull who was found in critical condition with her muzzle taped shut, took the stage and was in high spirits as guests placed bids in order to save one animal's life. By the end of the night, guests raised around $75,000 for Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund. 

Overheard:

"This [Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund] isn't just about fixing animal cruelty, it's about fixing our society as a whole." --Elizabeth Bradham, Charleston Animal Society President 

Beneficiary: 

The Charleston Animal Society, Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund 

 

Photographs By: Mike Powell

Kacie Meixel

March 12, 2016

The Party: Flooding prevented the initially scheduled Hogs for the Cause in October. Determined to still raise funds and awareness for their charity, five restaurants and BBQ joints came together for a smaller—but still impressive—rendezvous in front of the new Home Team BBQ downtown location. With live music by Guilt Ridden Troubadour in the background, guests were treated to specialty creations from the eateries, including pork sliders with avocado and slaw and Home Team's elite boudin balls. Participating vendors included Home Team BBQ, The Atlantic Room Restaurant at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Craftsmen Kitchen & Tap House, Edmund's Oast, and Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q from Atlanta, with beers from Revelry Brewing Co. and Coast Brewing Co. 

 

Highlight: Hogs for the Cause Charleston is an extention of the main event in New Orleans, which has raised more than $500,000 and has given grants to more than 300 families in the past six years. 100% of the funds raised from the event provide aid and relief of the economic burdens associated with pediatric brain cancer. As Jon Vanta from The Atlantic Room Restaurant at Kiawah Island Golf Resort notes, traditionally at the event "you get to meet the kids and families who receive the money; so while it's a good party, it's an even better cause."

 

Overheard: "Food, beer, music, and people. What's not to love?" —Matthew Haid, Craftsmen Kitchen & Tap House

March 11, 2016

By: Grae Adair

The Party:

The Gibbes Museum of Art’s sixth annual Art of Design Luncheon was an afternoon inspired by 18th-century jewels and design. Guest of honor, Andrew Prince, brought a treasure trove of his fine crystal jewelry designs (think vintage-inspired tiaras, bracelets, earrings, and more), including exclusive pieces from the hit series Downton Abbey. Prince later spoke of the traditions and fashions from the 1890s to 1929. After browsing and trying on jewelry, guests sat at tables adorned with beautiful arrangements by Jane and Gretchen Florals. On the menu, a maple-glazed frenched chicken with shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions was served for the main course and a carrot cake for dessert, all provided by the Marriot Charleston. The Gibbes Women's Council has raised a total of $175,000 from its Art of Design luncheons for the Gibbes Museum's Capital Campaign. The newly renovated building will feature a gift shop in the council's honor, "The Gibbes Women's Gift Shop." 

Highlight:

Guests had the opportunity to try on the treasures and speak to the designer about his work and, of course, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

Overheard: 

"You don't know how regal feels until you wear a tiara, especially one worn by Maggie Smith!" --Angela Mack, Executive Director 

Beneficiary:

The Gibbes Museum of Art Capital Campaign 

 

Written by Caitlin Gill

The Party: 

Food, wine, music, and revelry: Charleston Wine + Food kicked off its 11th festival with a huge “Cheers to Charleston” opening party at the Gaillard Center. There, 600 guests milled about tasting a variety of Lowcountry-inspired dishes by more than 20 local chefs, sipping wine, and trying the official 2016 Festival Cocktail, the Bon Vivant by Iouli Burroughs of Fish.

Highlight: 

Cypress chef Craig Deihl amazed guests with his Beef Tartare dish, including a candle made of fat trimmed from the beef. As the candle melted, he slowly dripped the sauce over the dish.

Overheard: 

"Have you seen the Gastronaut? I want a selfie with the Gastronaut!"