Thursday nights continue to be THE night for fundraisers and galas here in the Capital City. This past week, there were two. In the middle of all this fun, I’m busy rehearsing two dances, one of which is with Team Leonard, for the 10th anniversary of Dancing for Big Buddy April 23 at the PMAC.
Friendship & Dialogue
The night of March 31 began at the Atlas Foundation’s 13th annual Friendship & Dialogue Dinner at Boudreaux’s. If you’re not familiar with this organization, its membership is primarily Turkish and aside from promoting that country’s historical heritage and culture, its mission is to promote “mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of diverse faiths and cultures by creating opportunities for direct communication.”
On this special night, one individual and two entities were recognized for their efforts toward that mission. Adam Knapp, CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, received the Atlas Leadership Award; WAFB general manager Lee Meredith accepted the Atlas Media Award on behalf of the station; and Dorothy Thomas accepted the Atlas Service Award for Together Baton Rouge. The awards were presented by foundation Executive Director Emrah Aktepe, who then introduced the evening’s speaker — David Perlmutter, dean of the College of Media & communication at Texas Tech University. His topic was how to avoid a spiral of extremism and counter-extremism that will bring on a true apocalypse.
Meg Casper served as emcee for the evening.
Forum 35 Uncorked
From Boudreaux’s I headed to the USS Kidd Museum, where Forum 35 was staging its Uncorked blind wine tasting. The night’s star varietal was Pinot Noir, and the tables were filled with bottles of vino ready to be sampled. Sarah Chappell, Sarah Watts and Emily Lanier brought the winning bottle (Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Pinot Evil - Kings Ridge 2014) and got to take home one bottle of all the different wines brought to the event. Not a bad way to start your own wine cellar!
Even better, proceeds from the event benefitted the museum and projects of Forum 35. This was the first time I’ve been to the museum since its exhibits were redone and I have to say it’s very impressive. If you’re a history buff, this is a great place to wile away an afternoon.
Uncorked draws a very diverse crowd, and you can check out who all was there in our online photo gallery at TheAdvocate.com.
Co-chairmen Jacob Luneau and Blake Tolbird were deservedly sporting huge smiles. So was Kelly Bien n, who became Forum 35’s new president at midnight that night. Her fellow officers include President-elect Mathew Laborde, Treasurer Joshua Melder, Secretary Megan Johnson and Vice Presidents Branden Barker, development; Erinn Sala, communications; Cathy Juarez, individual membership; Blake Fowler, corporate membership; and Jessica Keasler, projects.
Board members for 2016-2017 include Matt Adams, Courtney Debetaz, immediate past President Eric Dexter, Ericka Garcia, Courtney Hart, Paige Johannessen, Leland Moss, Heather Otten, Candace Parker, Melissa Parmelee, Daniel Richard, Monica Valenciano Rogers and Matt Zagotti.
Earlier that afternoon, my co-workers and I celebrated the retirement of veteran Advocate outdoors writer Joe Macaluso, who’s hanging it up after 42 years at the paper. Among those coming by to pay their respects were former LSU Baseball coach and Athletic Director Skip Bertman; SouthernUniversity baseball coach Roger Cador; Camp Matens; Garry Littlefield; Gordon Hutchinson; David Cresson; Charles Hanigriff; Karen Cross; Gary Rispone; former co-workers Sam King, Butch Muir, Ed Cullen and Art Adams; and Advocate CEO John Georges. They joined Joe’s wife Cheryl, son Chris and a host of other family and friends in wishing Joe happy hunting and fishing in the days ahead.
I love having friends with cool jobs that get me invited to great events, so I quickly accepted Karen Profita’s March 29 invitation to attend the Louisiana Seafood Marketing & Promotion Board’s soirée for the Legislature. The food was off the hook — literally. Between the Acme Oyster House’s delish oysters, Matherne’s perfectly fried catfish and chef Tenney Flynn’s yummy shrimp dish, if you left hungry it was your own fault.
Now, after party hopping for 20-plus years it’s rare for me to be at an event and not know at least half the folks there. But I don’t hang with the Capitol crowd so I got to meet lots of new people at this event. I ran across friend Ann Connelly, who introduced me to Phil Boggan and Rennie Buras II, both with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and Louisiana artist George Marks. I learned an interesting tidbit from them — the total revenue reported by cultural businesses within Louisiana’s Cultural Districts was more than $1.3 billion in 2014, which generated almost $54 million in sales tax revenue. The amount of original art sales eligible for the tax exemption grew to $16 million in 2014, representing a $646,752 in lost revenue to the state. Seems like a pretty good return on our investment to me.
I also got to chat with new Lt. Gov. Billy Nung es ser, Bill Profita, Bill Hounshell, and from Visit Baton Rouge! Paul Arrigo, Lauralyn Maranto, Stacy Simon, Geraldine Bordelon, Philipa Blair and Courtney Hunt.
The week started off at a kick-off party for the Louisiana International Film Festival March 28 at Roux House. As attendees chowed down on the red beans and rice dished up by Galatoire’s Bistro chef Kelley McCann , they grooved to the sounds of the Michael Foster Project. It was a perfect way to begin the week and for festival organizers, volunteers and members of Baton Rouge’s creative community to rub shoulders.
Follow Pam on Twitter @pamspartyline. Items for Pam’s Party Line must be received by 9 a.m. the Monday preceding the run date. High-resolution digital photos should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hard copy photos should be dropped off at or mailed to The Advocate, 10705 Reiger Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. Events will run no later than four weeks after they have taken place. The date, place of the event and a contact name and daytime phone number must be included.