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RCC Preakness Party raises $55,000

For the second consecutive year, a sellout crowd of more than 350 attended Rappahannock Community College’s renowned Preakness Party, which benefits the RCC Educational Foundation (RCC/EFI). This seventh annual event, held May 21—a mild and sunny spring day—at historic Indian Banks in Richmond County near the waters of lower Morattico Creek, successfully matched previous years in clearing $55,000 to support the college foundation.

Preakness Party Guests View Auction Items

Preakness Party Guests View Auction Items

Arriving guests were greeted by two riders in formal hunting dress atop a pair of magnificent horses, inside a circle of colorful 30-foot-high banners billowing in the breeze. After a warm welcome from RCC president Elizabeth H. “Sissy” Crowther and RCC/EFI board president Chip Minor, patrons spent a delightful afternoon in sampling a tempting menu from eight leading area chefs, sipping fabulous Virginia wines, bidding on a profusion of appealing auction items, and listening to live jazz from the “Harris Simon Trio.” At the climax of the festivities, guests focused on large TV monitors as surprise winner Shackleford captured the exciting Preakness Stakes race.

In addition to raffle sales and auction bidding, event proceeds came from generous sponsorship contributions by the Charles E. and Claire V. Sutcliffe Education Trust, EVB Bank, Bank of Lancaster & Bay Trust Company, Chesapeake Bank & Chesapeake Investment Group, Union First Market Bank, and Wells Fargo Advisors, as well as a number of private donors. “These funds will go to the RCC Educational Foundation to support its mission of providing student scholarships, professional development opportunities for RCC faculty and staff, support staff activities, and other educational programs,” says dean of college advancement Vic Clough. In seven years, the Party has netted approximately $350,000 for the Educational Foundation.

Especially essential to the success of the Preakness Party were the local restaurants and vineyards that supplied foods, wines, and services. Belle Mount Winery (owned by Ray and Catherine Petrie) and the Flemer family’s Ingleside Vineyards have both participated every year since the event’s inception.

Signature gourmet food creations were prepared and donated by eight leading area chefs, all members of the “Order of the Five Gulls,” an honorary society that recognizes outstanding chefs and restaurants throughout RCC’s 12-county service region. These culinary artists were: Chef Jackie Brown of Carried Away Cuisine in Kilmarnock; Chef Donald Marvin of Eckhard’s Restaurant in Topping; Chef Maria Cota of Java Jack’s Coffee House and Restaurant in Tappahannock; Chef Adam Ginsberg of the historic Lancaster Tavern; Chef Pam Gurley, owner of The Tavern Restaurant in Heathsville; Chef Nate Myers of Nate’s Trick Dog Café, Irvington; Chef David Coontz of Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury in Irvington; and Chef Gabriel Gillette, who represented Tommy’s in Reedville after the recent and untimely passing of owner and chef Tommy Crowther. Chef Hatley Bright, coordinator of RCC’s Culinary Arts certificate program, acted as liaison with the Department of Health to make sure that all food regulations were followed; she also attended the Party with a number of her students to help out wherever needed.

RCC Preakness Party chair Virginia “Ginny” Ritter expressed special gratitude to Sandy and Dean Garretson, the owners of Indian Banks and hosts of this year’s Party, for their generosity in welcoming the college and its guests as well as contributing auction items. Also deserving of thanks are perennial master of ceremonies Jon Stallard (radio personality and part-owner of WRAR in Tappahannock), and returning auctioneer Manuel Haynie. In addition, Ritter expressed appreciation to volunteer committee members who started work on arrangements for the event months in advance: RCC/EFI board members Dr. Norman Howe, Carolyn Lemon, and Martha Tallent, and non-board members Hilary Derby, Helen Dillon, Peggy Fleming, Joyce Gunderson, Kathy Humphreys, Bob Jackson, Elizabeth Miller, Betty and Albert J. “Skeeter” Penley, Paula and Rob Ransone, Carolyn Roy, Dean Sumner, Steve Tallent, and Pamela Wiseman.

Area merchants providing services and items either gratis or at reduced rates included ARTon Products, Barbour Printing, Chesapeake Bay Ice Company, W.C. Lowery, Inc., and Minter Golf Carts. Volunteer helpers from the Bank of Lancaster, Chesapeake Bank, and the community at large also provided valuable assistance at the raffle and auction tables. Over 120 items, donated by generous individuals, organizations, and companies too numerous to name and ranging from original artwork to a purebred Sheltie puppy, were purchased from the opulently decorated silent auction tables, or by bidding during the spirited live auction.

RCC staff members who provided on-site logistical, problem-solving, and audio-visual help included Chris Balderson, Mark Beaver, Sue Broaddus, Bernard Brooks, Tim Coffman, Larry Coleman, Marlene Cralle, Kevin Haydon, Shirley Johnson, Connie Kerr, Brad Lewis, Richard Lewter, Dave Newsome, Petie Norris, Terry Parker, Beth Prescott, Martha Rest (and husband Ed), Dean Leslie Smith, Chris Stamper, Carolyn Ward, and Joe Wolski. RCC’s TRIO Program staff directors, Wilma Tynes and Brenda Levere, were ably assisted by a contingent of Upward Bound program students in handling the guests’ parking needs. RCC’s public information manager, Tom Martin, took care of advance publicity, graphic materials, and on-site photography. The College Advancement Team, consisting of Sandy Baum, Sharon Drotleff, Leslie Franklin, and Anthony Washington and led by Dean Vic Clough, was responsible for overall management of the event.


Photo: Guests at RCC’s Preakness Party intently survey an array of intriguing auction items at the May 21 event, which netted $55,000 for the RCC Educational Foundation. A capacity crowd of more than 350 gathered for the annual fundraiser, held this year at historic Indian Banks in Richmond County. (Photo by Rob Ransone)

One Response to “RCC Preakness Party raises $55,000”

  1. Dr Keith Contarino says:

    I am trying to contact my old friend and mentor Norm Howe. Anyone receiving this and can contact him please ask him to email Keith Contarino at above or call 678-717-7170

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