WILLCOX — It was a starry night at the Willcox Elks Lodge as local supporters of the arts gathered for the sixth annual Red Carpet Shindig, a fundraiser for the Willcox Historic Theater and Arts, on Saturday, March 4.
A packed ballroom of the county’s generous patrons of the arts were treated to a red carpet parade of interviews with celebrities from television’s past, a delicious dinner, then a spirited live auction.
Master of ceremonies Eddie Browning warmed up the crowd, first by acknowledging the critical support the Willcox community provides for arts, then interacting with guests through a game-show style crossword game.
Puzzle answers just happened to be the names of generous local businesses that help produce the festive evening.
“Legacy Foundation of Southwest Arizona, across,” may have been a long crossword, but it didn’t stop guests from celebrating the business community. GNS Heating, DC Carriers, Freeway Texaco, Valley Telecom, John Hilton and Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative were among the top contributors.
“When you’re here, when you donate, you’re helping to make this part of the world a better place to live,” Browning said during his opening remarks.
Ellen Kauffman, branch manager of Western Bank, conducted the celebrity interviews for the evening’s theme performance, “Television Personalities.”
Carol Burnett, “Laverne & Shirley,” the Sheriff and Opie Taylor from “The Andy Griffith Show,” and Grizzly Adams were represented.
Willcox City Councilman Paul Sheats delivered a performance of Detective Columbo, and Casey Dennis played Betty White as “The Golden Girls” beloved character, Rose.
Barbara Kay Shores gave a smashing rendition of 1970’s Cher.
A range of items were auctioned off, including donated art, fashion, nuts, guns, a half hog and wine, all from local businesses and craftsmen.
The atmosphere became charged as auctioneer Brooks Knight animated guests into friendly bidding wars, all for a good cause.
The evening raised more than $40,000, with a pistachio wood bowl with turquoise and copper inlay bringing a top prize of $5,100.
“We have a very generous community who steps up when it is needed. Businesspeople in the town bid against each other in fun, and in philanthropy that was great. It went well,” Kauffman said.
She has volunteered at the shindig in past years that saw themes like “Game Show Edition,” in 2021, a masquerade ball for the pandemic year, and “Celebrates Americana,” the theme for 2019.
“I think that it’s an expression of the community’s sense of community,” said Gayle Berry, director of Historic Willcox Theater. “Everything from volunteer celebrities to just the folks who buy a ticket and come to the theater, I think everybody looks forward to this as a unique experience, plus as we got the community together for a good cause.”
The cast and crew for the evening were Larissa Peters, Cheryl Moss, Cindy Rae Peterson, Ron Berry, Gary Clement, Mary Peterson, Erin Bowlby, Taylor Belden, Josh Allred, Lori White, Larry Moore and Michel Moss.
“One of the main things that (this) helps us to do is a lot of educational programming, art workshops for kids, and all those sorts of things,” Berry said. “These kinds of funds help us keep the fees for those things little to nothing. We don’t charge for our kids workshops, we want to make sure that everybody has the opportunity, so having these kinds of funds enables us to not have to charge, or charge a large amount.”
For information or to support the Willcox Historic Theater and Arts visit willcoxtheater.com.
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