Annual SCHS Fundraiser Expands to Two-Night Format
RIDGWAY – If there is a limit to Linsday Hepp’s patience, perhaps she’s just found it.
“No, guys, it’s unzip your coat for three-four, and then take it off for five-six-seven-eight,” the six-months-pregnant choreographer hollers at the motley crew of male dancers she is attempting to instruct. “There’s a little bit of multitasking, but I’m sure you can manage it.”
Then, as an aside to the women who are hooting on the sidelines: “It’s like teaching a bunch of drunk teenagers.”
The guys don’t take it personally. They run through their moves again...from top to bottom, as it were.
The annual Fashion Cabaret is a much-anticipated highlight of Second Chance Humane Society’s annual Wine & Whiskers Carnival. It features an all-local cast of models strutting clothing from the Second Chance Thrift Shop in Ridgway.
And as usual, this year, the men are poised to steal the show.
“They are not really going to kick their shoes off, are they?” frets SCHS Executive Director Kelly Goodin. “People will be sitting quite close to the runway.”
Hepp assures her that the shoes will come off gently. But there may be some other clothing articles that go flying.
Wine & Whiskers – SCHS’s primary fundraising event of the year – has become the kind of party that people talk about for months afterwards. The fun, flirty and festive affair takes place this Saturday night, March 16, with an Opening Night Mixer (and Fashion Cabaret debut) scheduled Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Organizers are taking the risk of expanding to a two-night format this year, because they found themselves with the fortunate problem of their event outgrowing the available space at the 4-H Event Center.
“Last year was way too crowded,” Goodin explained. “Some people were leaving early. This is what we came up with. Hopefully it will work.”
The concept is based on the premise that there are two types of people that tend to come to Wine & Whiskers, Goodin said. One group is strictly interested in seeing the Fashion Cabaret. Thursday’s Opening Night Mixer, with its discounted entry fee, will be perfect for them. The other group comes for the whole shebang – the show, the schmoozing, the dancing, the generous libations and famously “foodie” cuisine, and the chance to bid on over 300 items in the silent and live auction. That contingent should show up en masse on Saturday, ready to party.
The Fashion Cabaret will be the highlight of both evenings. Hepp and Michelle Kodas are the lead choreographers for this year’s show. Guest choreographers Kendra Manley and Natasha Pyeatte have also joined in the fun.
In recent years, the size of the cast has swollen to record numbers. This year, “We intentionally cut our numbers back,” Goodin said. There will be 25 models, including girls, guys and something in-between (rumor has it that Marilyn Manson will be be making a guest appearance.)
“There is a limit to how many people you can fit on the stage,” Goodin explained of the down-sized cast, which still includes models of all ages and talent levels.
“You don’t even have to be able to know how to dance,” she said. “But even if you can’t dance, you are out there dancing anyway. It’s really about their energy. I mean, look at them.” She nods her head toward the guys on the runway, who are gyrating their hips, rolling their shoulders and pumping their fists in the air to the tune of You Can Leave Your Hat On. “That’s real.”
“Every year we try to raise the bar, and make it unexpected,” choreographer Kodas said of this year’s show. “It has become more tightly choreographed, higher energy, with a very wide spectrum of music from all genres,” from Tina Turner and Peggy Lee to Michael Franti and Super Freak.
“There are a lot of high-energy lines,” Hepp added. “Last year was sexy; this year is sexy, but classy.”
And as for those lines the models will be strutting, they all came straight out of SCHS’s economic engine, the Second Chance Thrift Shop. The Fashion Cabaret organizers “pick out music and clothes for the lines, and we start putting things aside in September, based on the outfits they want to have,” store manager Lynda Burns said. “The variety of stuff that comes through the store is amazing; if you can think it, we’ve gotten it.”
Among the snazzier items on display in this year’s Fashion Cabaret, look for a tongue-in-cheek “ode to the thrift shop” line that embraces the range of clothing options available at Second Chance.
Since its inception seven years ago, Wine & Whiskers has become a powerhouse fundraising event for SCHS. “Last year we hit our goal which is $50,000,” Goodin said. “It was amazing; it was a big push for us.”
The event is also extremely well-supported by the business community; this year, SCHS has received $8,200 in sponsor cash. “That more than covers our expenses,” Goodin said. Most of the food is contributed by local chefs throughout the tri-county area, as is the delectable on-site cooking provided by Chef Alix Fremgen. “And DJ Anton gives us a screaming deal,” Goodin said.
With choreographers and models also donating their time, there is virtually no overhead. The money raised flows into SCHS’s general fund, and is used for annual operations, covering animal care and other programs.
Visit www.adoptmountainpets.org to see all of SCHS’s community programs and services, such as Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance, Feral Cat, Mobile Adoption, Education & Prevention, and Volunteer & Foster Care Programs. Visit the events page online to learn more about Wine & Whiskers or call 970/626-2273 for further details.