School’s back in session and that means the social scene is heating up. If last weekend is any indication, it’s going to be a very busy fall.

‘Food Star’

Local food blogger and radio host Jay Ducote will always be my Food Star even though he wasn’t proclaimed the next “Food Network Star” in the season finale Aug. 16. Ducote hosted a viewing party at The Varsity Theatre for family and friends, and packed the place. Among those on hand to cheer on Jay were parents Phyllis and Jere Ducote, sister Dana Ducote, Kenisa and Slater McKay, Erin and Scott Uffman, Gabby Loubiere Higgins, Paul Arrigo, Josh Howard and members of Jay’s tailgating posse — the Third Row Tailgaters.

There was an audible gasp followed by boos when fellow finalist Eddie Jackson was declared the winner. An emotional and very gracious Ducote congratulated Jackson as he thanked attendees and Baton Rouge as a whole for their support during the competition.

“I thought I had it,” said Ducote from the stage. “I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished. This is just the beginning.”

We can’t wait to see what comes next Jay!

Kelli’s party

Sunday was my second trip to The Varsity. It was one of three stops Saturday evening, the first being Boudreaux’s for the Kelli Leigh Richmond Ovarian Cancer Foundation/Kelli’s Kloset’s second annual gala and auction. Welcoming the several hundred guests were Patsy and Ron Richmond, parents of the brave young woman who lost her very public battle with ovarian cancer in May 2012 at the age of 30. Proceeds from the evening benefit the foundation, which carries on Kelli’s fight for awareness of ovarian cancer, especially for women in their 20s and 30s, and Kelli’s Kloset, which helps provide clothes and accessories for women cancer patients. The foundation also presents a $1,000 birthday wish grant each month to a woman battling cancer.

Special guests for the night were LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri and wife Karen and actor Wes Brown, a Parkview Baptist School alum like Kelli. Featured speakers included Kelli’s Kloset shoppers Sharon Stephens and Anatasia Taylor, June’s birthday wish recipient Alicia Hamilton, initial birthday wish recipient Wanda Waite and gynecological oncologist Dr. Dennis DeSimone.

Healing Little Hearts

From Boudreaux’s I headed to The Varsity, where the V-Tones were already rocking at the Louisiana Pediatric Cardiology Foundation’s second annual “Helping Heal Little Hearts” fundraiser. One of the prize items in the live auction, conducted by radio talk show personality Michael Berry, was a baseball bat autographed by guest athletes Ricky Blanton, Pete Bush, David Dellucci, Mike Fontenot, Kurt McCune, Chad Ogea, Michael Papajohn, Ryan Peterson and Ryan Theriot. The auction also included several guided hunts, LSU and Saints football packages, a guitar signed by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and an adorable 7-week-old golden retriever puppy.

The partying continued after the auction with a performance by the Chee-Weez. Proceeds from the event help the Baton Rouge-based nonprofit assist families with children battling congenital heart defects as well as provide free heart screenings for high school athletes.

Event committee members included Bruce Collins, Michael Hudson, Brooke Ingalls, Kelee King, Libby Murrell, Lori Smith and Natalie and Todd Viator.

Apollo Masquerade

My final stop for the night was the Woman’s Club, where the dance floor was packed for the Krewe of Apollo’s Masquerade fundraiser. Reigning over the festivities were 2015 King and Queen Apollo, Joe Boniol and Josh Richardson, aka Josalyn Royale, respectively. Special guests included the recently crowned 2016 Mr. and Miss Apollo Baton Rouge — Jacob Lacara and Mia NéCole Bonét.

I had so much fun catching up with my buddies Captain Emeritus Larry Fremin, Hal Holloway, Josie Panula, Buffy Kovach, Bobby Suchman, 2016 ball Co-captain Lester Mut, 2016 ball Captain Corey Tullier, President John Deshotel, Paul Lemoine, Mark LeFeaux, Jimmy Jones and Allen Zittnauer. It was also fun checking out the masks made by members for the silent auction. They were beautiful! I can’t wait to see which ones turn up at the 35th annual Mardi Gras Ball Jan. 22. That’s when Dr. Walter Patrick Cain and Tom Merrill will be crowned as king and queen. I can’t wait!!

50 years of fun

While I was party hopping in Baton Rouge, features editor Karen Martin was celebrating the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair’s 50th anniversary gala, which she said was almost as much fun as the fair itself.

The fair’s foundation kicked off its upcoming 50th event with a bang, announcing more than $500,000 in endowed scholarships will be given to seven schools this year in honor of 15 individuals for their outstanding leadership over the past five decades.

The gala at La Maison de Bella in Prairieville drew a huge crowd of past fair chairmen and volunteers who have given of their time and talent to help put on the annual event, along with other guests.

The fair began in 1965 as a project of the Baton Rouge Jaycees. More than $1 million was funneled to community service projects during the Jaycee years, said foundation Chairman J.H. Martin.

In 1985, the Fair Foundation was formed, with proceeds from the annual event given in the form of scholarships and grants to charitable and nonprofit organizations involved with families and children in the Baton Rouge area.

Saturday’s scholarship announcements brings the total given back to more than $3.5 million since 1985, Martin said.

Along with Martin, former chairmen and founders of the fair Doug Gonzales and the late David Broussard were recognized for 50 years of leadership. Honored for more than 40 years were Cliff Barton, Jim Broussard, Fred Burkett, Gregory Edwards, Harvey J. Landry Jr., RL Leger, Buddy Webre and Warren Wilson. Recognized for more than 30 years were Stanley J. Prutz and Dot Wise Wirth. The late Kent James and Roger Manson also were recognized.

Martin said the half-million dollars in endowed scholarships are being presented to seven schools in the Baton Rouge area – Catholic High School, Episcopal High School, St. Joseph’s Academy, St. Michael the Archangel High School, The Dunham School, University High School and the LSU Foundation.

This year’s fair takes place Oct. 22 through Nov. 1.

Offering hope

One of my favorite women was in the spotlight the evening of Aug. 13, as Boys Hope Girls Hope hosted “An Evening with Donna Saurage” at LSU’s Lawton Room. There’s not enough space to list this steel magnolia’s accomplishments and contributions to this community, suffice it to say the room was packed with folks waiting to hear what she had to say in her presentation on giving back, “Rambam, You & Me — Hope & Expectation.”

Joining her in highlighting the good work of Boys Hope Girls Hope was Executive Director John Daniel. In other business, the organization presented a special board award to board member and local orthodontist Dr. Steve Sherman for volunteering his time and talents.

Waiting on a Cure

Mestizo Mexican Restaurant was packed to almost overflowing for this year’s Waiting on a Cure benefiting the Bella Bowman Foundation, whose mission is to help families caring for children living with brain cancer and to further research to better understand the risks of radiation injuries to the brain. This year’s theme was “Superheroes that Serve,” and it had most of the celebrity waiters dressed in their favorite superhero ensembles. Not in costume for a change was Mayor Kip Holden, although he was wearing an apron and carrying a notebook for orders.

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