Painting the Plaza Red and White
LIA TRANSUE AND KATHY WITKOWICKI were guests at last year’s Red and White Ball.
Paul Rattay Photography/Special to the Index-Tribune
While it benefits a new charity and maybe has a more gussied-up appearance, the Red and White Ball remains one of the iconic events of the summer season and signifies a time of celebration and contribution.
“This is an event that has a real history, people have a lot of memories associated with it,” said Laura Zimmerman, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, which took over the popular fundraiser last year. “The Red and White Ball has always been a call to action for our community. Today, it’s a call to action for our schools.”
This year’s event is slated for 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, in the Plaza, which will be festooned with red and white décor for the evening and offers a tiered ticketing system to make the party accessible to all. Guests can expect to hear live music from El Verano teacher Tim Curley’s band, the Cork Pullers, during dinner. After dinner, ball attendees will dance to the music of Dave Martin’s House Party Band, a group almost synonymous with the popular party.
“He’s played it 17, 18 or 19 times, we’re not entirely sure. He’s really iconic at this event,” Zimmerman said.
When it comes to dinner, top ticket holders will have a feast of the bounty grown in the Sonoma School Garden Project. Those who purchase $150 VIP tickets will be treated to a sumptuous “farm-to-table” feast from Chef Chris Ludwick of Grapevine Catering. Zimmerman said families from the school district would be harvesting whatever looks best from the various gardens this week, including tomatoes, onions and herbs, which Ludwick will whip into the dishes he has planned for Saturday’s spread, to be served alongside grilled hanger steak with blue cheese potato dumplings, among other delicacies.
“Basically, we’ll be like, ‘Chris, here are all of the veggies, do what you will,’” Zimmerman laughed.
For $75, attendees can take part in the Picnic Party, which includes a barbecue banquet served family style at reserved tables sprinkled throughout the venue. Chef Jim Modesitt, of Big Jim’s BBQ, will be cooking grilled tri-tip, apple smoked ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and chicken with classic side dishes such as baked beans, potato salad and cole slaw.
“He (Modesitt) has the two largest barbecues in the world that he’s bringing to the event,” Zimmerman said. “Buy early for this one, the picnic usually sells out.”
Anyone can purchase a “Dance Only D.I.Y. Zone” for $25, which allows guests to bring their own food and blankets for dinner, then join the party on the dance floor. VIP and Picnic Party tickets must be bought in advance so the foundation can plan for food, but dance-only tickets will be sold at the door. Everyone needs a ticket to enjoy the festivities on the Plaza that evening.
“We want this to be an event everyone can come to. We’re very sensitive about that and we want all of our school families to be able to participate,” Zimmerman said.
New this year, the foundation is raffling off a brand-new Fiat Pop, valued at $17,750, provided by Fiat of Concord “at a significant discount,” Zimmerman said. Tickets are $20 and the winner will be announced during Saturday’s Red and White Ball, although ticket-holders need not be present to win.
“We have the potential to make a decent profit off of this if we sell out tickets,” Zimmerman said, adding that they’re going fast. “We’ve been selling tickets everywhere.”
Proceeds from the event will be used for programs supported by the Education Foundation, such as the Exploratorium program that brings hand-on science to the classroom while simultaneously developing language skills. The Visual Thinking Strategy program uses fine arts to help develop critical thinking skills, while the Teach Support Network has secured 62 volunteers to help over-worked educators. Finally, funds will be used in the School Garden Project, which has already developed gardens at all 10 public schools and seeks to develop healthy cooking classes to teach students how to use the ingredients they grow.
“We can fund programs that maintain excellence in schools. We work on a lot of programs to help students raise achievement,” Zimmerman said, explaining that recent cuts within the school district have made the work of the foundation even more critical. “Around $2.5 million will be cut, and if we don’t have a huge community involvement, we’re going to have trouble … I think our school district right now has really strong goals. And we’re articulating those goals. But this is how we do it, with community involvement and investment in our schools.”
Tickets for the raffle or the Red and White Ball can be purchased online at svgreatschools.org or by calling 935-9566.