Jake’s Help From Heaven 3rd Annual Finest Fillies

Heather and Brian Straughter Photos courtesy of Ed Burke Saratogian

Heather and Brian Straughter Photos courtesy of Ed Burke Saratogian

The competition at the track couldn’t hold a candle to the races at Vapor on Thursday night, where Saratoga’s Finest Fillies battled it out to raise money for Jake’s Help From Heaven. This playful event is in its third year and with a creative blend of games and fundraising is one of the most entertaining of the season.

Guests arrived and sipped “Sweet Jake” cocktails as fillies and trainers worked the room selling raffle tickets that would double as bets for the upcoming race. Brian Straughter welcomed the enthusiastic crowd and spoke about his son Jake, the inspiration for JHFH whose mission is to support individuals with multiple medical challenges or disabilities. Brian then went on to introduce the evening’s main event and emcee, Natalie Sillery. Natalie pulled post positions for the fillies who this year included Beth Alexander, Johanna Friedman, Kelly Hite, Julie Johnson, Elaine Sillery, Christianne Smith, Heather Straughter, Jenny Witte and Melissa Zieker.

The 2014 lineup of Saratoga's Finest Fillies Photos courtesy of Ed Burke Saratogian

The 2014 lineup of Saratoga’s Finest Fillies Photos courtesy of Ed Burke Saratogian

Natalie Sillery, event emcee extraordinaire Photos courtesy of Ed Burke Saratogian

Natalie Sillery, event emcee extraordinaire Photos courtesy of Ed Burke Saratogian

The finest fillies took their positions while Plinko Queen Colleen Carlson prepped the Plinko board. The way the evening worked was the fillies and their trainers sold raffle tickets that guests then placed in a box representing a filly of their choice for the chance to win one of several fabulous prizes. Then the Plinko game determined which filly would advance to the finish line. Sam the Bugler was on hand to begin the festivities and Natalie charmed the crowd with her play by play commentary as the plinko began. Several of the filly’s eager trainers watched as the game progressed including Susan Halstead, Trina Lucas, Jim LaVigne and Traci Jersen. Also spotted taking in the action were Mary Gavin, Lisa Moser, Lisa Gabryshak, Rebecca Beers, Marti Lard and Rick Partyka. Heavy favorite Heather Straughter took a commanding lead in the plinko race and took home the win, followed by Beth Alexander and Julie Johnson for place and show positions.

Photos courtesy of Ed Burke Saratogian

Photos courtesy of Ed Burke Saratogian

Raffle tickets were then drawn from the winning fillies box to determine the prize recipients, with lucky Theresa Russell winning two nights at the Crowne Plaza Time Square and the Carlson family who will be enjoying a two night golf trip to the Crowne Plaza in Lake Placid. Marti Laird was delighted to take home a night at Saratoga Arms and Kate Jarosh was thrilled to win a stunning print from Lisa Miller’s Foal Project. Event organizers Heather and Brian Straughter were delighted to report the evening raised over $20,000 for Jake’s Help from Heaven.

The 35th Annual Polo By Twilight Benefit

Event Co-Chairs Sara Hallberg Boivin and Donene D. Honnold with Anne Palamountain (center) photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Event Co-Chairs with Anne Palamountain (center) photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Polo By Twilight celebrated their 35th annual benefit on Tuesday with a full house of over 500 guests under the tents at Saratoga Polo Association. While the ponies and players battled it out on the polo field guests streamed in to help raise funds for the Joseph C. and Anne T. Palamountain Scholarship at Skidmore College. Launched in 1979 by Anne Palamountain, the fund provides support for Skidmore students whose outstanding academic records and c0-curricular service exemplify the unique contribution that the Palamountains have made to Skidmore College.

Event Co-Chairs Donene D. Honnold and Sara Hallberg Boivin (’96) welcomed guests into the first tent with an extensive silent auction spanning three sections. Anne Palamountian, looking chic and elegant in fuchsia, chatted with friends as guests placed their bids on items like tickets to Opera Saratoga, equestrian prints, and “Around the World” treasures from Anne Palamountain herself including vintage pieces like a Franor Royale French vessel and a James Kent strawberry bone china tea set.

Skidmore President Phil Glotzbach and wife Marie were spotted, as well as Tab Orthwein, Sally King, Dan Czech, Beth Harker, Emily and Jerome Mopsik, Tamie Ehinger, Charles and Mary Lou Wheeler, Charles V. Wait and his wife Candace, Dr. Mark Moreau and wife Carole, Virginia Kraft Payson, Lidia Bazar, Rachel and Tom Uccellini, Bonnie Walmsley, Cindy Spence, Mary Mastropietro, Peter O’Hara, Lisa Fox Martin and John Garofalo, Chip Babcock, Sarah Loughran, and Karen Schick.

Tabitha Orthwein and Beth Harker, photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Tabitha Orthwein and Beth Harker, photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Candace Wait and Tamie Ehinger, photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Candace Wait and Tamie Ehinger, photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Seated inside, Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson chatted with friends Ed and Maureen Lewi as guests were called in to enjoy the always remarkable dinner put on by Skidmore’s Dining Services under the helm of the very talented James Rose, Skidmore’s Executive Chef. Always a highlight of the event and of the summer itself, Rose really outdoes himself in the cuisine and it always leaves guests raving. This year’s menu had an Adirondack theme and featured a risotto with braised duck and pheasant, pan grilled Millbrook Farms venison loin and a generous raw bar which was very popular with guests. The menu always has a local focus as well, highlighting local foods to perfection.

The evening’s program began with opening remarks from Skidmore President Phil Glotzbach, and included the presentation of the Denis B. Kemball-Cook Award, named after a respected former trustee of Skidmore College that honors extraordinary commitment in giving to Skidmore College. This year, the Skidmore Board of Trustees voted unanimously to give the award posthumously to Dennis D. Dammerman, a longtime executive at General Electric who served on the college’s board of trustees for nearly 10 years and was well known in Saratoga Springs and beyond for his involvement with local civic and business enterprises. Linda Toohey presented the award which was graciously accepted by Dennis’ family to a great round of applause.

After the award presentation Anne Palamountain thanked guests for attending and helping to make the scholarship such a success for students at Skidmore, which has supported 18 scholars this year. Before long the live auction was underway, and Chris and Sarah Ward of Bidforyourbenefit took to the stage to get the crowd going with their unique energy. Items on the auction block this year included dinner with acclaimed Mystery Author Archer Mayor courtesy of Cantina Restaurant and Northshire Bookstore, a seven night stay at a Gold Crown Resort of the winner’s choice courtesy of Mary and Gary DiSanto-Rose, and a West Point Thoroughbreds Ownership Experience which went to Ray Bryan, Dr Martin Ferrillo, and Kyle Kordich.

Colleen Barber (’04) also received the inaugural Anne T. Palamountain Scholar Award, created to recognize Palamountain Scholars who have distinguished themselves through leadership and service to society. Barber is a vocational rehabilitation specialist for the VA Boston Healthcare System. “I am very grateful to have received the Palamountain Scholarship,” said Hursh. “Not only did it provide generous financial assistance to my family and me, but it also provided a unique and special connection to Skidmore, for which I am incredibly appreciative.”

As the elegant evening came to a close, the polo ponies headed to their trailers and guests ambled out onto the field as the sun began to set on another very successful benefit, firmly a staple in the Saratoga summer social schedule.



Jake’s Help from Heaven’s 3rd Annual Finest Fillies at Vapor Thursday, July 24th

JHFHThe Tattlers are ready to race on Thursday at Vapor Nightclub to help raise funds for Jake’s Help from Heaven. Place your bets on Jenny and Robin to win it, click here for more information and come down to Vapor this Thursday to cheer on your filly! Bets CAN be made online even if you can’t attend, click here to make a bet and buy tickets today.

Here is the complete lineup of Saratoga’s Finest Fillies competing on Thursday night…

Beth Alexandertrained by Chef Jasper Alexander

Johanna Friedmantrained by Alison Robbens

Kelly Hitetrained by Susan Halstead

Julie Johnsontrained by Brian Straughter

Elaine Sillerytrained by Trina Lucas

Christianne Smithtrained by Jacob Hopper

Heather Straughtertrained by Jim LaVigne

Jenny Wittetrained by Robin Dalton

Melissa Ziekertrained by Traci Jersen

The 65 Roses Opening Day Soiree to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Fasig Tipton served as the perfect backdrop for the 36th annual 65 Roses Opening Day Soiree fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on Friday evening. Event Chairs Erin Conway and Susan Hollister welcomed close to 300 guests to the auction grounds at the historic Fasig-Tipton Sales Facility in Saratoga Springs fresh off a day at the races at the Saratoga Race Course just steps away.

TS Ensemble hit just the right notes as guests stopped by the Prosecco station and sampled butler passed hors d’oeuvres from Mazzone Hospitality like mini grilled Reubens and crispy polenta bites. A seafood and raw bar and the 677 Surf and Turf rolls were crowd favorites and the silent auction, including items like 14K diamond stud earrings from Hannoush Jewelers and sports items like a Jenness Cortez Travers Breakfast 1984 print signed by the artist and a day at the races at Saratoga Race Course in a VIP luxury box donated by NYRA saw heavy traffic from guests.

IMG_3317 IMG_3380 IMG_3414Rich Becker, friend of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, welcomed guests, and greetings were offered by the Honorary Co-Chair Bill Sullivan, Director of Sales from the Charles Friehofer Baking Company. The Honoree of the Evening was John D. Bennett, MD, the President and CEO of CDPHP, which was also celebrating it’s 30th anniversary and was recognized with a surprise sparkler cake to mark the event. “The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation works day-in and day-out to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life for people in the Capital Region and beyond. It is because of your tireless efforts that people living with Cystic Fibrosis can lead the most fulfilling and productive lives possible. I applaud your efforts to fund research, that is making a significant impact”, said Dr. Bruce Nash upon accepting the Honoree Award for CDPHP.

Dress designer Daniel Mozzes was in attendance along with a bevy of beauties decked out in his gorgeous designs, and Honorary Committee member Stephanie Collins was the picture of elegance in one of his black and white frocks that she picked up downtown at Saratoga Trunk.

Spotted in the crowd were Jenn and Kyle Perry, Valerie Collins,CJ and MaryBeth DeCrescente, Bill and Miranda Lia, Peter and Tracie Cosgrove, Congressman Paul Tonko, Jim and Julie Massry Knox, Sam Judge and Rachael Wheeler, Bill Sullivan, Carolyn Jones, Angelo Mazzone, Bill Morgan, Maureen Murphy, Dr. Bruce Nash (Chief Medical Officer CDPHP), Tom and AnneMarie Marasak, David and Diane Faziolo, and Karen Carpenter Palumbo.

This year’s event was a true success, raising $170,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Plans are already underway for the 37th Annual 65 Roses…Opening day 2015 at Fasig Tipton.

The Saratoga Bridges White Party at Fasig Tipton

Tickets for Saratoga Bridges’ annual White Party were some of the most coveted of the season and after Saturday night’s event it was easy to see why. Fasig Tipton has never looked better as the sold out crowd of over 600 people gathered to support Saratoga Bridges, whose mission is to provide support and services for people with developmental disabilities.

Guests arrived still buzzing after the first two days of racing and took their seats in the auction house to begin the evening with an energetic live auction. Co-Chairs Beth Alexander and Heather Straughter and Honorary Chairs Sonny and Julie Bonacio joined Executive Director Valerie Muratori and Chad Beatty on stage as they welcomed the crowd and kicked off the exciting evening. As the bidding began, Ryen VanHall was thrilled to take home a $10,000 Bonacio Home Makeover package to use in the renovation of his recently purchased home and Wilame Piteri and Charles Cronin snatched up a VIP SPAC Concert Package for 6. Todd Smolen will be enjoying Traver’s Day in style after winning a day at the races and Bob and Lisa Moser will be enjoying a wine dinner for 10 with Prime at Saratoga National. On the silent auction tables, the very popular “Basket of Cheer” filled with an impressive selection of wines donated by Crush and Cask, which will be enjoyed by Pier Bruno.

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One of the most poignant moments of the evening was the conclusion of the live auction when four of Saratoga Bridges Creative Endeavor artists joined the stage to show bidders three pieces of art they had donated. It was a wonderful representation of how the programs at Saratoga Bridges can impact and enhance the lives of those in our community; Ron and Michele Riggi took home the artwork with a winning bid of $2,500. With the auction coming to a close, guests poured out into the perfect summer weather to enjoy food, drinks and dancing.

Mrs. Marylou Whitney glowed under the stars as she and Mr. John Hendrickson greeted and chatted with guests, while Mary Gavin and Jim Lavigne, Colleen and Skip Carlson, Angelo and Kate Calbone and Scott and Julie Johnson were spotted sitting together nearby. Michele and Ron Riggi, Patty Riggi and Sandy Foley mingled as Heather Bohn Tallman snapped guests’ photos and James and Sons Tobacconists hand rolled cigars. Mike and Susana Hoffman looked on beaming as they watched their daughter Heather Straughter join Beth on the dance floor to the sounds of Gravity which had everyone on their feet. Amy Burton, Laura Simiele and Nick Wiggins were spotted on the packed dance floor and nearby Kate and Mike Naughton, Sue and Kevin Cushing, Keeley and Stephen DeSalvo and Susan and Jeffrey Halstead, Rick Partyka, Cassandra Partyka and Justin Jordan were all enjoying the evening. The team at Saratoga Bridges did a phenomenal job and the event seems to grow every year, with this year’s Gala netting an impressive $113,000, a record amount for the White Party.

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The Annual Opening Day Whitney Luncheon at Saratoga Race Course


Marylou Whitney, Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Maureen Lewi Photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Race fans enjoyed picture perfect weather on Friday at Saratoga Race Course and spirits were high as friends gathered for Marylou Whitney’s annual Opening Day Luncheon inside the At-the-Rail Pavilion.

The luncheon, which has now been taking place every Opening Day for well over 60 years, serves as a reunion of sorts with friends catching up and sharing stories of the past year as well as swapping bits of exciting info about the upcoming race meeting.

Horse owner and philanthropist Marylou looked resplendent seated with husband John Hendrickson, who was looking smart wearing a traditional seersucker suit. Marylou, always a fan of ‘tailored with a flair’, opened her season in THEIA by Don O’Neill in a beautiful deep coral jacquard from Saratoga Trunk, looking every inch the Grand Dame of Saratoga. She seemed to have set the tone for the color of the day as many other ladies also chose rich pinks and corals for their first day of the season attire.

(l-r) Michael Monaghan, Heather Mabee and Margot Monaghan Photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

(l-r) Michael Monaghan, Heather Mabee and Margot Monaghan Photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

(l-r) Saratoga Chamber President Todd Shimkus, Senator Kathy Marchione and NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay Photos Courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

(l-r) Saratoga Chamber President Todd Shimkus, Senator Kathy Marchione and NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay Photos Courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Cot and Anne Campbell Photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Cot and Anne Campbell Photos courtesy of Erica Miller, Saratogian

Marylou and John’s table was buzzing with friends the entire luncheon, and spotted chatting we saw Jane Wait, Maureen and Ed Lewi, and Marlene and Mike Okby. A hush only fell amongst guests as the first race went off, but the merriment quickly ensued and table hopping was at a high as we saw Marylou’s daughter Heather Mabee looking fabulous in black and white, Charles Wait, his son Charles Wait Jr. there with wife Natalie, Bob and Mary Alice Lee as well as Bob’s mother Brenda, Scott Johnson and wife Julie, Terry Lee, Mike and Linda Toohey, Nancy and Mike Ingersoll, Gloria and Joe Dalton, Julie Bonacio, Lisa Torani, Ray Martin, Todd Shimkus, Marcia White, Mayor Joanne Yepsen, and Brien and Cindy Hollowood.

Also seen were Senator Kathy Marchione, NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay, Dogwood Stable’s Cot and Anne Campbell, Jack Knowlton, Saratoga Hospital President and CEO Angelo Calbone with wife Kate, Patty and Vince Riggi, Samantha Bosshart, Virginia Kraft Payson, Jo Ann and Paul Oreffice, Beverly R. Steinman, Stanley Petter and Mimi Cooper.

As the horses entered the track in front of the pavilion, guests enjoyed a fully stocked buffet and toasted to the first day of another fantastic season in Saratoga.

SPAC’s Annual Ballet Gala & Lawn Party

The evening's winning tent

The evening’s winning tent by Modern Mix

Summer is here in Saratoga Springs and that means that one of the season’s signature events, the SPAC NYC Ballet Gala and Lawn Party took place over the weekend. The evening’s first event, the SPAC Ballet Gala: A Tribute to Great Britain welcomed guests to the Hall of Springs with a sparkling cocktail reception courtesy of Mionetto and dancers from Northeast Ballet. A roaming bagpiper helped bring a little British ambience to the clear evening, and one or two real life Beefeaters were seen mingling with the guests.

The Gala, hosted by SPAC’s Action Council, welcomed top sponsors like Price Chopper, Neil, Jane, William, Estelle Golub Family Foundation, Turbine Services ltd., and Mionetto. Spotted inside were Mike & Linda Toohey, Traci Jersen, Andrea Spungen, Tas Steiner, Erica Dingeman and Matt O’Rourke, Sue Hensley-Cushing & Kevin Cushing, Maria Harrison, Michele and Ron Riggi, Patty and Vince Riggi, Stephen & Keeley Desalvo, and Ed and Maureen Lewi. Guests dined inside the Hall of Springs on British classics like Beef Wellington and Shepherd’s Pie and enjoyed wine courtesy of Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Merlot Sonoma County Chardonnay.

Outside on the SPAC lawn the British Invasion was taking over and the mood was mod for the swinging 60s, Great Britain style. The Union Jack was sported on everything from bow ties to go go boots and guests really got into the spirit of the theme this year and went all out decorating their tents.

The Ballet Gala Lawn Party: A British Invasion was hosted by SPAC’s Junior Committee and top sponsors like Ayco, Bodywork Professionals, Mingle on the Avenue, and Towne, Ryan & Partners, P.C. helped make the night possible.

There was some stiff competition for who would win the Best Picnic Award, the Zieker’s tent was decked out with life sized Austin Powers cutouts and a great Sergeant Pepper’s cutout created by Gloria Ford which saw a lot of action from guests wanting to get their photo snapped as part of the Fab Four. Wendy Lawrence was spotted in a fabulous tent they were calling the “Shagalicious Lounge” with spot on swinging 60s décor complete with a white leather couch, oversized Union Jack painted guitar and more by Fine Affairs and catered by John Winnek.

It was the tent sporting a huge hand painted Union Jack tapestry that won out in the end though, as the cup went to the tent hosted by Jacob Hopper and Terry Leahy of Modern Mix and included guests Catherine and Mark Hover from Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio, Judy Soukup, Gretchen Tisch, Bret Van Etten, and Todd Garafano, the President at Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau and wife Holly. Gretchen from Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio was the artist that created the tapestry, and the group really came together to deck out the winning tent in all of it’s British glory.

It was the tent sporting a huge hand painted Union Jack tapestry that won out in the end though, as the cup went to the tent put on by Catherine and Mark Hover from Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio, Jacob Hopper, Terry Leahy, Judy Soukup, Gretchen Tisch, Bret Van Etten, and Todd Garafano, the President at Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau and wife Holly. Gretchen from Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio was the artist that created the tapestry, and the group really came together to deck out the winning tent in all of it’s British glory.

Spotted on the lawn we saw Joanne Yepsen, Charlie Samuels & Erin Koenen, Dennis McGowan & Erica McCarthy, Terry Lee & Dave Povero, Brendan Nadick, Shane & Jamie Williams Ness and their adorable daughter Addie, Rick Partyka, Julie Natale, Tammy Loya, Allison & David Meyers, Erika & Matt Gough, and Natalie and Charles Wait, Jr.

As the gong sounded to begin the performance guests took their seats and gathered closer to watch the NYC Ballet perform, and this year’s gala program also featured NYCB principal dancer Wendy Whelan in her last SPAC performance before her retirement from City Ballet after 30 years with the Company. Topped off with post-performance live music by City Rhythm, dancing and a grand Firework Display, it was a perfect tribute to the NYC Ballet at SPAC.

Always a successful event, all funds raised from the evening’s festivities support NYCB’s residency at SPAC, which will be back for 2 weeks for 2015.


2014 TRASK Art Show and Sale at Canfield Casino

Beautiful Saratoga Springs inspired art filled the Canfield Casino Thursday night for the 2014 TRASK Art Show and Sale presented by the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. The Art Show and Sale, a unique event in Saratoga, is put on to benefit the Spirit of Life & Spencer Trask Memorial Restoration Campaign. The memorial, originally completed in 1915, is in need of professional restoration. The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, in partnership with the City of Saratoga, has been leading the charge in preserving and caring for the memorial, which is located in Congress Park.

While guests mingled in the historic space turned art gallery, they sampled bites from Holiday Inn at Saratoga Springs, The Inn at Saratoga and the Barrelhouse and placed bids on their favorite works of art. The band Neighborhood of Make Believe took to the stage and provided a perfect musical backdrop to the bidding.

10457666_10153100243065288_6194257393390480482_oArtists mingled with supporters at the event, and spotted in the crowd we saw the chair of the event Maryanne Moerschell and her husband Dan, Bill and Susan Dake, Jeff and Deane Pfeil, Commissioner Skip Scirocco and his wife Corinne, Betsy Boland of Saratoga Springboard, Catherine and Mark Hover, Gretchen Tisch, Tracey Buyce, Jennifer Mahar, Kenneth Levy, Belinda Colon and Benj Gleeksman, Laura Chodos and her daughter Lisa Noonan, Judy Harrigan, Jim and Lisa Sasko, Jim Gold, Holly Schwarz-Lawton,and a special guest dressed as the Spirit of Life statue herself, who was probably the most popular photograph subject of the night (played by actress and local yoga teacher Amy Kirkpatrick Rosen).

Also in attendance was Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation Board President Jere Tatich, Treasurer Cindy Corbett, Secretary Linda Harvey-Opiteck (also a TRASK artist), as well as Board Members Katie Carroll, Bill Willard, Sue Hensley-Cushing, and Michelle Paquette, Board Member Chris Armer and his wife Kelly Armer, Board Member Nicole Rogers and her husband Martin, and Board Member Liz Israel and her father, Bob Israel.

One of the most popular works of art of the evening was the oil painting, “The Spirit of Life III” by Rumara Jewett, which ended up receiving the highest bid of the night. Not just an art sale, the art show also had guest judges who presented Judge’s Awards to the winning artists. The Judges for the evening were Elizabeth Dubben, Director of Exhibitions at Saratoga Arts, and Ken Ragsdale, Artist and Art Educator.

oil painting by Rumara Jewett "The Spirit of Life III"

oil painting by Rumara Jewett “The Spirit of Life III”

The Grand Prize Winner, who received a $500 cash prize sponsored by Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio, was “Regina’s Ride” by Bob Klass, and Honorable Mentions included Matt Chinian’s “#297 Saratoga Apple”, Chris DeMarco’s “Umbrellas”, Mary Kathryn Jablonski’s “Whiphand” and Takeyce Walter’s “Apple Blossoms”.

All proceeds from 2014 TRASK Art Show & Sale directly benefit the restoration project, which will include all aspects of the Memorial: the Spirit of Life sculpture; the masonry surround, including the east balustrade and reflecting pool; and the landscape setting including plantings, pathways, lighting, and the rambling creek. The restoration will be completed for the Memorial’s centennial in June 2015, the same year the City of Saratoga Springs will celebrate the centennial of its incorporation.

Samantha Bosshart, the Executive Director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, had this to say about the event, “What’s exciting about tonight is that it’s a nice opportunity for artists to present art that is inspired by Saratoga, and to have artists at the event and donate a portion of the proceeds of the sale of their art to benefit a collaborative project with the city, to save what is our unofficial symbol of the city”.

The Annual Yaddo Summer Benefit

The Annual Yaddo Summer Benefit is always a singularly pleasant experience and this year’s benefit, held this past Thursday night in the historic mansion once home to Spencer and Katrina Trask, was made that much sweeter with the pairing of absolutely perfect summer weather. The evening started out upstairs with a private cocktail hour where Anne Palamountain was spotted chatting with friends and the spirits were high. Charles V. Wait, Dr. Amy Knoeller, Katie and Josh Nemer, Yaddo Sponsorship Committee members Jennifer Leidig, Rick Partyka, and Benefit Planning Committee members Tamie Ehinger, Brendan Flanigan, and Sally King were also spotted before Yaddo artist Michael Snediker, in quintessentially stylish summer madras, hopped up on a chair to clink his glass and usher guests down the grand staircase to the music room on the first floor for the presentation by the guest speaker.

As well dressed guests filed into the beautiful music room, Benefit Planning Committee members Judy Soukup and Christianne Smith handed out programs and little paddle fans printed with images of Yaddo to keep themselves nice and cool. The stillness of the summer evening was matched by the stillness of the guests, who sat in rapt attention eagerly awaiting the speaker and Guest of Honor, author Jayne Anne Phillips. Elaina Richardson, Yaddo President, thanked guests for coming and introduced Kim Swidler, the Benefit Chair for this year’s event, who after recognizing all of the hardworking committee members also recognized the Benefit Sponsorship Committee Co-Chairs Stacie Arpey and Cindy Hollowood.

Yaddo President Elaina Richardson, right, stands with writer Jayne Anne Phillips and her husband Mark Stockman photo courtesy of Ed Burke, Saratogian

Yaddo President Elaina Richardson, right, stands with writer Jayne Anne Phillips and her husband Mark Stockman photo courtesy of Ed Burke, Saratogian

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Poet Michael Snediker, a visiting artist at Yaddo, with Ann Palamountain photo courtesy of Ed Burke, Saratogian

The Guest of Honor, American novelist and short story writer Jayne Anne Phillips, was then introduced and a hush fell over guests as she shared stories about her experiences writing at Yaddo and then dove into some riveting excerpts from “Quiet Dell,” her latest novel. After fielding just a few of the many questions guests had, she urged everyone to head out to eat and drink and enjoy the beautiful evening as guests stood and applauded.

A lavish spread awaited everyone thanks to local restaurants and florists, who donate the wonderful food and flowers so over 90% of the proceeds go directly to the artists residency program at Yaddo. Restaurants like The Brook Tavern, The Crown Grill, 15 Church, Boca Bistro, Longfellows, Prime at Saratoga National and many more contributed to the delicious food, and a platter of macarons that were all colors of the rainbow from TC Bakery-Paris was quickly finished.

Guests mingled throughout the first floor of the mansion, taking in the beautiful works of art and sampling the food inside, and gathering in small groups to chat on the expansive veranda with a beautiful view of the famous gardens outside. Spotted amongst the guests were Wally and Sue Allerdice, Marcia White, Stacie and Mike Arpey, Anthony and Susan DePaula, Stephen and Susan Dorsey, Sequoyah and Seth Finkell, E. Stewart and Kimberly Jones, Sandy and Gail Keeler, Sally and Larry King, Cathy and Elliott Masie, Beverley Mastrianni, Will and Tab Orthwein, Mike and Marci Phinney, and Heather and Jason Ward.

A successful silent auction kept the table inside busy with generous items like Giants tickets, an acoustic guitar from Saratoga Guitar, Dinner in the Mansion for 10, a beautiful Frankie Flores print of the Yaddo Mansion and main fountain, a book club visit from Yaddo writer A.M. Homes, and jewelry from N. Fox, Frank Adams, and deJonghe.

Before the evening was through we chatted with Benefit Chair Kim Swidler who said, “It’s a wonderful honor to be able to be a part of this, it’s a great feeling knowing that all of these people have come together to support Yaddo.” Another successful summer benefit is now in the books for Yaddo, and with their successful sponsorship campaign they were able to surpass their $135,000 goal.

First Annual Dogs, Divas and Dudes at Prime at Saratoga National

When Michele Riggi throws a party you know she’s going to pull out all the stops, and that was certainly the case for the First Annual Dogs, Divas and Dudes Gala on Thursday at Prime at Saratoga National to benefit cancer research and discovery at the Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine.

Michele revamped the always popular and perennially successful Dogs and Divas luncheon and upped the ante to create this knee slappin’ and boot stompin’ cowboy themed bash. The veranda at Prime at Saratoga National was absolutely transformed and a western wonderland was laid out for guests under the tent by Fine Affairs, complete with bandanas, custom Dogs Divas and Dudes logo koozies from the Pink Paddock, dog treats from the Lazy Dog Cookie Co. and more.

A custom stage set up for the celebrity entertainer served as the platform for Michele to greet guests and supporters along with Master of Ceremonies Walt Adams from 101.3 The Jockey and the event cause wasn’t far from anyone’s mind as there were quite a few four legged guests as well, also sporting some seriously cute western wear. The live auction included an exclusively custom built “Doggie Estate” from Bella Home Builders, built and designed by Dave DePaulo, the owner of Bella Home Builders complete with a stone exterior, an automatic water bowl filler and a chandelier, perfect for a pampered pooch.

The western themed “grub” that night lived up to the always high expectations of Prime at Saratoga National and guests loved the lip smacking barbecue which featured BBQ pulled pork fritters, cowboy steak and jalapeno and lime Cotija cheese bites as well as signature “Big Daddy” and “Divalicious” cocktails.

Nearly everyone there donned some form of festive western garb and the crowd was a sea of rhinestone bedecked cowboy boots and bedazzled cowboy hats with lots of black leather and denim as the preferred fashion statement. Michele Riggi looked gorgeous in a black hat with turquoise accents while Julie Bonacio, there with husband Sonny, opted for pretty braided pigtails.  The entire veranda served as a cowboy playground as guests took turns riding the mechanical bull, watching a trick roping demonstration or relaxing by the fire with “Cowboy Poet” Mark Munzert.

Michele and Ron Riggi were seated front and center along with Patty and Vincent Riggi with special honorary guests Dog and Beth Chapman from the CMT reality series “Dog and Beth on the Hunt” for the special performance by celebrity entertainer country music artist Chris Janson, who got guests on their feet and clapping in front of the stage.  Mingling among the cowpokes were Roslyn Zecchini, Nicole Rich, Sandy Foley, Laura Bonacio, Nancy Bambera, Lisa Mitzen, John and Mimi Carusone, Nancy and Gary DiCresce, John and Denise James, Natalie Sillery, Dan and Dorothy Bullis, Bill and Alex Willard, Denise Dubois and Dr. William DeLuca, Rick Partyka, Kimberly Burton, Dr. Joy Lucas, and Anne Donlan. After the exciting live performance, guests got a chance to remember the evening with souvenir photos snapped by Imagine Photography and Design and then danced the night away DJ Mike Garrasi.

Fundraising numbers were still being totaled at press time, but event chairwoman Michele Riggi spoke to the Tattlers about the evening’s success. “I was thrilled with the turnout for our first Dogs, Divas and Dudes Gala and Cornell University was overwhelmed with the support. Chris Janson rocked Saratoga National and Dog and Beth Chapman were fabulous Honorary guests! Preparation for next year’s gala and we look forward to our continued collaboration with Cornell University”.