Saturday evening, March 7th, nearly 350 guests arrived in flowing gowns and crisp tuxes to the 2017 Maury County Benefit Ball at the Memorial Building. The patrons were treated to floor-to-ceiling painted tapestries and silky Moroccan-style draperies in fuchsia, golds and oranges from Columbia Draperies that evoked this year's theme of "Arabian Nights."
Floral centerpieces by Mum's the Word, Lively Florist and D's Designs echoed the rich jewel-toned color scheme. Coordinating table linens with gold accents and stunning stage decor added the final touches to create the magical Arabian Nights setting.
"We love a good theme to work with; so when choosing the theme, we knew we wanted to do something different," said Dawn Baucom Gray who co-chaired the event with her daughter Kayla Gray Smith and owns Lace & Co., a bridal and formal wear boutique located in downtown Columbia.
"Kayla and I discussed many options before deciding on Arabian Nights. We were drawn to the theme because of the bright colors, and we knew the decor would be fun, bright and different from anything recently seen at the Maury County Benefit Ball," Gray added.
Each year, the Benefit Ball raises monies for different local charity organizations through its ticket sales and auctions. This year's recipients were Columbia Young Life, Youth Education Foundation and Rose Hill Cemetery. The funds are often used for specific programs in the organizations and can make quite a difference for the charities' operations.
The event started at 6 pm with cocktail hour, followed by the awarding of the Lucille Queener Courtney Award and live auction with dinner and dancing afterward.
Local attorney Chaz Molder who acted as the Master of Ceremonies said "The Benefit Ball is always one of the best nights of the year for our community. This year's ball was no exception. I was honored to play a small part, and the best part of the entire evening was the fact that three very worthy organizations will benefit greatly due to the generosity of the attendees."
This year's award was given to Judge Bobby Holloway for his outstanding service to the community. Of the award, he told us: "I am very honored to have received the Lucille Queener Courtney Award for community service. I first met Mr. and Mrs. Courtney when I was in elementary school. Lucille's husband, Robin Courtney, was my law partner for several years and was my mentor.
"Mrs. Courtney cared deeply about our community and was actively involved in numerous community events and charitable projects. Her hard work made Columbia and Maury County better places to live and raise a family, and her example encouraged me to be involved in our community."
As the event auctioneer, United Country realtor Jonathan Hickerson provided a lively evening of bidding at the live auction, which preceded dinner. A highlight of the evening came in the form of 3 year-old Ella Grace and 5 year-old Virginia, daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Shawn Gentry.
Dressed in aprons and matching chef hats, the girls' cooking skills were auctioned off for a special evening of their specialty: macaroni soup. Hickerson navigated the enthusiastic bidding deftly, bringing the winning bid a price tag of $1200.
The auction was followed by dinner and dancing, with "Burning Las Vegas" providing the entertainment.
In conclusion, the mother and daughter co-chairs Dawn and Kayla said, "We think everything turned out beautiful and was exactly as we had hoped. We hope everyone had a lovely evening. We don't have the final number yet but hope we raised a lot of money for our hometown. This was definitely a group effort with a lot of help from the executive board, underwriters, sponsors, donators and everyone attending!"
To see and/or purchase the more than 200 event photos by Holly Dobbs and Jamilla Sherzai, click HERE.