It was an evening for oenophiles. The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society, which raises money for the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, presented its first wine auction and gala, and many who participated raved about the wines and about the fact that dozens of new faces were inside the museum.
The big silent auction, held in the Marly Room, boasted a variety of highly rated vintages from the United States and elsewhere, including French Bordeaux, pinot noirs from Oregon and Washington, even a 1976 burgundy.
The live auction, conducted in the Glass Conservatory of the Hazel Hough Wing by Sotheby's Eliza Osborne, featured lively bidding on travel as well as wine, including a magnum of 2005 Shrader "Old Sparky" cabernet sauvignon contributed by former St. Petersburg residents Carol and Fred Schrader, now Napa Valley vintners.
No firm figures yet on how much the event raised, but organizers did consult leaders with the Naples Winter Wine Festival; that auction, held in January, is the most successful in the world and raised $12 million for children's charities this year.
Margaret Amley and Pat Campbell-Stichweh led the event committee, with help from Charlotte Bacon, Joann Barger, Cathy Collins, Janet Crane, Blair Crimmen, Mary Lou DeVoe, Carol Fisher, Nancy Dunn, Sunny Endicott, Sue Hands, Chris Hilton, Elaine Hearn, Muffie Hoche, Mary Lou Howe, Camilla Kilgroe, Suzanne MacDougald, Signe Oberhofer, Donna Painter, Carol Piper, Joty Puckett, Gail Pyhel, Gail Razook, Fran Risser, Jane Schaumberg, Whitney Shouppe and Carol Treichel.
"Poetic Justice," the yearly benefit for Operation PAR, had an Alice in Wonderland theme for its gala at Bascom's Chop House in Clearwater, and the auction represented fantasies of many kinds for bidders who attended the 16th annual event.
In case you are unaware of the genesis of the concept, the event uses the seized assets of drug dealers to help pay for substance abuse, prevention and treatment. It is the brainchild of Mary Critchfield, who attended with her husband, Jack. Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats and his wife, Kat, presented a check from sales of confiscated items. This year's auction included donations of jewelry and other confiscated items from the Hernando and Hillsborough sheriff's offices, and donated goods from many Tampa Bay area residents and businesses. Jewelry designer Owen Sweet, who donates some of his creations to the cause, also cleans, repairs and evaluates the forfeited items.
Karol Bullard is the perennial chairwoman for the event; her committee included Kay Aude, Susie Berman, Debi Burns, Kay Dillinger and Connie Whitehead.
Attendees included Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe, with his wife, Denise; Public Defender Bob Dillinger; and Circuit Judge Tom Minkoff with his wife, Elise.
"Amore," the Valentine-themed 61st annual Fashion Promenade presented by the Woman's Service League, was a luncheon and fashion show held at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.
This year's proceeds go to the Selama Grotto Cerebral Palsy Endowment, a Mason-affiliated organization that oversees the Hyperbaric Center for Children — Chamber of Hope in St. Petersburg.
Ten women and five men were presented for recognition as the 2011 Best Groomed: Mary Ellen Conte, Bill Emerson, Elizabeth Hammer, Charlotte Krizek, Claire Mazzella, Joan McCreary, Bill McQueen, Terry Ray, Nancy Rutland, Ann Vickstrom and Pat Wheeler. The group includes a married couple, Karen and Rick McCollum, and, for the first time ever, a mother-son duo, Barbara Paonessa and Dr. Jeff Paonessa.
Maggi McQueen, John Schloder and Don Whitehead were inducted into the Hall of Fame, which includes those who have been presented several times.
Kim Horstman, Pat Howells, Joyce Larson, Najla Majeed, Karen McColllum, Joan McCreary, Barbara Paonessa and Luisa Perez-Harvey modeled clothing presented by Roxanne Gray of Patchington of Isla del Sol and Renate Feth of Ambria's Gallery of Wearable Art in St. Petersburg.
Joann Barger and Maggi McQueen co-chaired the event committee, which included Roseanna Costa, Lorraine Danna, Joyce Larson, Karen McCollum, Nora Pearson, Sally Poynter, Karen Saron, Edie Spies, Sheila Tempelmann, June Wedding, Mary Wheeler, Diane Winning, Barbara Wiseman and Teresa Wittstruck.
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Because there has been confusion about some events and some changes in details, here is updated information for several:
"A Place to Hang My Hat," a fundraiser presented by the Collectors Circle of the Museum of Fine Arts, will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. March 21 in the Marly Room at the museum, 255 Beach Drive NE. $50. Reservations required: Send e-mail to Vicki@fine-arts.org or call (727) 896-2667, ext. 214. The Collectors Circle event "Moroccan Nights," Collectors Choice X, is from 7 to 10 p.m. April 29. $200. Reservations: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (727) 866-6209.
"Star Power," the 25th annual luncheon and fashion show featuring Tampa Bay area celebrities, has a date and admission price change. The event, which is presented by the Pinellas Auxiliary of the Children's Home, will take place beginning at 10:30 a.m. April 15 in the Palm Court Ballroom of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, 501 Fifth Ave. NE. $75. Reservations: E-mail email@example.com, or call (727) 515-1212.