Return of the Red and White Ball
RED AND WHITE BALL committee member Karen Dee gives a taste of what the event will look like on Aug. 20.
The Red and White Ball is back on Saturday, Aug. 20, with a new spin on an old favorite that will now benefit the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation.
The party on the Plaza will include a little something for everyone.
For the full VIP experience, attendees can take part in a Farm-to-Table dinner prepared by Chef Scott Howard, who usually can be found in the kitchen at Brick and Bottle in Corte Madera. Howard will craft a meal around produce picked fresh from the gardens that the Education Foundation has helped to fund at each school's campus.
"We have been growing vegetables specifically for the Red and White Ball," said Laura Zimmerman, executive director of the Education Foundation. "All of the flowers for the event are coming from the garden too."
Howard will work from a list of all the produce that will be ready to harvest from the gardens, which includes tomatoes, various types of peppers, squash, lettuce and herbs. He will then design a menu to celebrate the season and the hard work that went into the garden.
"We're also keeping red and white as part of the theme," Howard said, explaining that he was considering serving a duo of gazpacho - one red, one white.
Howard visited several of the school gardens and was impressed by what he found there. "Some of the schools, they have really nice gardens going. They're doing a good job," he said, adding that he enjoys the idea of working with foods the students had a hand in. "That way, (the diners) can truly say what they're eating was grown by the children."
VIP ticket holders will have access to the full feast, as well as a night of dancing to the Dave Martin House Party Band, who have performed at the Red and White Ball more than 15 times. VIP tickets are $150.
Guests also have the choice of the Picnic Party, with a less formal meal on the Plaza, including cookies baked by the school district's food services department. Those tickets are $75. "We provide the tables and chairs, all the food and prime seating to watch the dancing," Zimmerman said.
For those who only want to dance, tickets are $25. "We wanted to have something for everyone who loves this event," Zimmerman said, but added all attendees must purchase a ticket.
Throughout the night, two bars will be manned by volunteers from the Sonoma Valley High School Boosters Club, who will be pouring wines donated by Highway 12 Winery.
When it launched in 1990, the Red and White Ball was a community party that celebrated the Plaza and raised funds for its preservation. It brought in more than $800,000 for renovations to the Plaza and contributions to other organizations, such as installing sprinklers at the Sebastiani Theatre. In 2007, the Plaza Foundation decided to retire the event. But last year, members of the Plaza Foundation's board decided it was time to revisit that choice.
"They wanted the Red and White Ball to pass on to a new owner," Zimmerman said. "They put out a call to all the nonprofits."
The board selected the Education Foundation, which supports programs at all of the Valley's public schools. Zimmerman said her foundation was eager to keep the traditional aspects of the ball, just slightly spiced up with some new offerings.
"(The Plaza Foundation) did tremendous work to create an iconic event," Zimmerman said.
To date, the Education Foundation has donated more than $3.6 million to district schools, including $1.3 million for Sonoma Valley High School, $716,000 for technology upgrades, $533,000 for advanced computer skills training for teachers and $430,000 for reading, writing and literacy programs district-wide. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Education Foundation's core programs, with special funds earmarked for the School Garden Project.
"It's our goal this year to bring back our Teacher Grant Program," Zimmerman said, explaining that teachers can apply for money for specific projects or educational opportunities they couldn't otherwise afford. "We had it going for 16 years and in the lean economy, it got suspended."
Tickets to the Red and White Ball can be purchased online at www.svgreatschools.org or by phoning 935-9566. Tickets will be waiting at will call at the event.