From dancing to the Derby, to tastings and reunions, this was a week to party in the Capital City.
Dancing for Big Buddy
Fellow judges Christy Reeves, John Spain and I had our work cut out for us at the ninth annual Dancing for Big Buddy April 25 at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Trust me, it’s no easy task to match the Star Dancers with the perfect award but we had a lot of fun figuring it all out.
L iz “Hottest Legs” Firesheets and dance partner Donte Phillips rumbaed away with the Female Audience Choice Award. It was the perfect 25th birthday present for the her Golden Birthday. Melvin Hardnett and dance partner Jerrise Grantham’s “Most Entertaining” Hammer Time-freestyle earned him the Male Audience Choice Award. It was especially bittersweet, given that Jerrise’s husband, coach Larry Grantham, died earlier that week. What a true professional she is! I hope she felt the love of the audience as we all stood and applauded her bravery.
Bringing down the house was state Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, who with partner Leonard Augustus and Team Leonard members Le’Brian Patrick, Claire Broyles and Ryn Jones, danced their way into the hearts of the audience to win the Cumulus Media Text Award and the judges’ Best Technique & Boom Boom award.
Candy Wright, who also danced with Leonard, took the prize for garnering the most online votes as well as the judges’ award for Fiercest Dance Moves.
So how did the rest of the Star Dancers do? R eid Bateman, partnered with Johanna Collier, won Most Daring; Dr. Jerry Dynes, partnered with Kris Cangelosi, Best Facial Expression; Vanessa Graham, also partnered with Donte, Hottest Couple; Leo Hamilton, partnered with Courtney Black, Most Suave; Shelly Ripple Johnston, partnered with River Peterson, Best Costume; Heather Kirkpatrick, partnered with Van Vo, Sassiest; Adam Knapp, partnered with Ryn, Highest Energy Dance; Rhonda Loy, partnered with Le’Brian, Most Sultry; Russell Mosely, partnered with Claire, Most Surprising; Dr. Terrie Thomas, partnered with Aaron Lafitte, Most Flexible; and Brittany Weiss, also partnered with Aaron, Most Sparkle & Pop.
The night started of with an opening number featuring Lauren Regner and choreographed by Black and Grantham. Of course, the Little Buddies and their intermission routine, choreographed by Donna Blanchard and Lisa White with the Powell-Moise School of Dance, practically stole the show. Hosts for the night were WBRZ’s Sylvia Weatherspoon and John Pastorek.
Derby After Dark
Across town at the stables of Carolyn and Dan Heard, coworker Karen Martin represented The Advocate at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s 14th annual Derby After Dark Gala & Auction. This event always features some of the most tempting auction items in both the live and silent auction, like a signed guitar by country superstar Kenny Chesney and tickets to Bayou Superfest to an LSU Baseball dugout experience for two to some mouth-watering dinners from Galatoire’s Bistro, Houmas House Plantation, Juban’s Restaurant, Sullivan’s Steakhouse and Chef William Wells, of Culinary Productions.
Todd Mason with Stokes Auction Group served as auctioneer for the night. Serving as emcees were WAFB ’s Donna Britt and Talk 107.3’s Karen and Bill Profita.
Committee members included Shannon Abney, Kristy Andries, Catherine Bernhard, Gina Ellison, Alexandria Falcon, Al Flettrich, Susan Love, Lucas Molbert, Tamara Palmer, Eileen Stradley and Sheryl Brady-Teske.
‘An Evening at Windrush’
The night before, Julie and Wendel Foushee were fêted as Honorary Overseers at the LSU Rural Life Museum’s annual “An Evening at Windrush” dinner. As is tradition, the festivities started with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the grounds of Windrush House followed by a delicious dinner catered by Chef John Folse & Co./White Oak Plantation in the Visitors Center and desserts, by Nanette Mayhall, coffee and cordials outside the Museum Barn.
For the adventurous there were hay rides from the garden to the Visitors Center. I enjoyed getting to visit with Roy Powell Davis, Carol Anne Blitzer, Elaine Ellis, Kathleen and Vic Howell and Glenda Waguespack.
Dr. Vince Cataldo and chef Cody Carroll whipped up the winning pot of seafood gumbo in The Taste’s celebrity chef cookoff April 23 at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel. This annual event benefits the Mary Bird Perkins — Our Lady of Lake Cancer Center and some 1,200 guests turned out in support.
While only the judges — Mary Bird CEO Todd Stevens, chef William Wells and cancer survivor Megan Gallagher Mabus — got to taste the gumbo made by Cataldo, Carroll and competitors Rose Hudson and chef John Folse and Congressman Garrett Graves and chef Gino Sclafani, the rest of us got to sample the offerings from 22 local caterers and restaurants while sipping beverages provided by Republic National Distributing Co., Mockler Beverage Co., Rougaroux Rum and Baton Rouge Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
The night also featured an enticing silent auction and the announcement of the ‘Passport to Paris’ five-day Parisian vacation for two, presented by Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry and won by Laurie Aronson.
Louis Curet served as honorary chairman of The Taste; co-chairmen were Pamela Delatorre and Eric Guerin. Committee members included Katie Cicardo, Pamela Delatorre, Sean Finan, Danielle Gremillion, Lindsay Chustz Guerin, Ryan Guerin, Jattie Guidry, Rebecca Harrod, Shelly Johnston, Ann Michael Legarde, Kristin Obafunwa, Allison Pham, Brandi Rinaudo, Claire Scroggs, Kristin Stafford and Darsey Walker.
BR High reunion
Before heading out to L’Auberge, I popped in at Ralph & Kacoo’s where Baton Rouge High School alumni, primarily from the 1950s and ’60s, were getting together for a reunion. Trips down memory lane were already being shared by the time I got there and tall tales of teenage escapades no doubt being embellished with the passage of time.
For lunch, I joined the Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists at its third annual Scholarship Luncheon at Boudreaux’s. Honored as pioneering journalists at the event were Ivory Payne, publisher of The Weekly Press, presented by son Ivory D. Payne; Genevieve Stewart, former host of “Question of the Day” on KQXL-FM, presented by Tanya Freeman; Jean West, former WAFB news anchor, presented by Sylvia Weatherspoon; and the late John Williams, former Advocate photographer, presented by John Ballance. Williams’ wife, Barbara, accepted the award on his behalf.
Featured speaker for the luncheon was Rachel Emanuel, with the Southern University Law Center. She shared how each of the honorees touched her life in some way. It was a sentiment echoed by BRAABJ President Michelle McCalope : “You paved the way for other black journalists in our area to pursue a career in the media … without you there would be no us.”
I stopped by the Crowne Plaza en route to Boudreaux’s to grab a quick photo of some of the movers and shakers attending the VIP reception prior to the Public Affairs Research Council’s annual luncheon. Featured speaker for the event was Advocate cartoonist Walt Handelsman, who I understand was quite entertaining to the several hundred luncheon-goers.
The week started off at the groundbreaking celebration for the Knock Knock Children’s Museum. Everyone was sporting a huge smile as a group of youngsters donned hard hats and manned their shovels to dig a little a dirt and kick off the long-awaited project. On hand for the groundbreaking was Mayor Kip Holden, who proclaimed April 22 as Knock Knock Children’s Museum Day throughout the parish. He praised the people who never gave up on the project, which began some nine years ago, in particular board President Staci Duhé and Kelly Stevens who have been involved from day one.
“It takes a special person,” said Holden. “It’s about the future of Baton Rouge … you are second to none.”
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