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RCCs expanded Preakness Party now approaching sellout

Those wishing to attend the eighth annual Preakness Party, the Rappahannock Community College Educational Foundation’s annual gala event (to be held May 19, 2012), should act now to confirm their reservations before space is sold out. Although the event features more of everything this year in a larger layout to accommodate additional attendees, it is already well over halfway sold out, according to foundation director Victor Clough.

Preakness Party Participants Partake in Pastries

Preakness Party Participants Partake in Pastries

“Bigger and better” is indeed the key phrase for every aspect of this year’s Party. More restaurants and wineries are participating, and more fascinating and desirable items have been donated for the auctions than ever before. Another major lure for 2012 is the site—a historic 508-acre estate on the Chesapeake Bay in Northumberland County known as Gascony Farms—which is now the Northern Neck home of Paul Trible, president of Christopher Newport University (and former United States Senator), and his wife Rosemary.

Setting the Preakness Party apart from all other fundraisers is the stellar array of taste temptations offered by the area’s leading chefs. For 2012 the list of restaurants represented jumps to eleven, to include Carried Away Cuisine, Kilmarnock; Eckhard’s Restaurant, Topping; Java Jack’s Coffee House and Restaurant, Tappahannock; the historic Lancaster Tavern in Lancaster Courthouse; Nate’s Trick Dog Café, Irvington; Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury, Irvington; Seven Sinful Martini Bar, White Stone; Steamboat Restaurant at Piankatank River Golf Club, Hartfield; Stratford Hall; The Tavern Restaurant, Heathsville; The Tides Inn, Irvington; and Tommy’s, Reedville. Guests will also be treated to excellent Virginia wines poured by Belle Mount Vineyards (Warsaw), Good Luck Cellars (Kilmarnock), and Ingleside Vineyards (Oak Grove), and a repeat performance by a trio from the “Strings & Things” musical ensemble will lend magic to the afternoon.

This year’s array of imaginative silent and live auction items promises something for all tastes and pocketbooks . . .fabulous travel packages, one-of-a-kind antiques, jewelry, fine art originals from leading area artists, and maybe a few surprises! (Auction offerings can be previewed at RCC’s website, beginning April 15. To do so, visit and click on the Preakness Party link.) The amazing afternoon will conclude with the thrill of viewing the Preakness Stakes horse race live on overhead big-screen TVs.

RCC president Dr. Elizabeth Crowther emphasizes that the college is unswervingly dedicated to making higher education accessible and affordable to any qualified resident of the Northern Neck or Middle Peninsula who wishes to take advantage of the opportunity. The RCC Educational Foundation uses Preakness Party proceeds to support RCC’s mission—“to promote the personal growth of RCC students and prepare them for success as learners, professionals, and citizens by providing quality educational experiences.” Each year the Foundation funds scholarships that help students to excel, as well as sponsoring creative projects and innovative programs that are not fully supported by state allocations. Attendance helps support higher education within the 12 counties of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula—a 3,000-square-mile area—and promote access via scholarships, at a time when state funding is at an all-time low, to both academic courses and continuing education opportunities for community members.

In addition to admission fees and auction bids, a large portion of the Preakness Party net proceeds are realized through generous corporate contributions from loyal college supporters. To date these include Bank of Lancaster and Bay Trust Company, Chesapeake Bank and Chesapeake Investment Group, EVB, Union First Market Bank, and Wells Fargo Advisors. “In the seven years since its inception, the Preakness Party has netted more than $350,000 in support of the RCC Educational Foundation’s mission of providing student scholarships and professional development funding for RCC faculty and staff,” Clough notes. “We expect to top $400,000 in total net proceeds after the 2012 event.”

Once again, as the Preakness Party nears sellout status, planners encourage prospective attendees to phone the Educational Foundation at 804-333-6707 and make the required reservations without delay. The admission charge of $50 per person covers all food, drink, and entertainment.

Photo: Guests attending the expanded RCC Preakness Party on May 19, 2012, at Gascony Farms in Northumberland County, will enjoy delectable creations from twelve of the area’s leading chefs and restaurants, and fine Virginia wines, plus a live viewing of the Preakness Stakes on large-screen TVs. Proceeds of the Party support the RCC Educational Foundation. Pictured at the 2011 event: guests line up for tasty nibbles at one of the many restaurant booths.

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