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RSVP: Reporting Saratoga's Various Parties for 8/31

By | News

Life is a Cabaret

The Mansion Inn concluded its cabaret series, “The Stars are out Tonight,” with intimate performances by Billy Stritch on Wednesday and Thursday, August 22-23. The ultimate New York City performer, Stritch paid tribute to one of the legendary singers of all time, Mel Tormé, with an eclectic, energizing set of musical numbers.

 

The evening started with a delightful bistro menu and cocktails. It was an impromptu party for several escaping the in-town Travers Festival celebrations. Spotted at Wednesday’s cabaret tables were Laura and Jerry Morton, Kevin Smith, Michael Panza, Linda Loeffler, Greg and Suzanne Grande and Margie Rotchford.

The series has been a huge hit. Over the past six weeks, attendees have enjoyed musical entertainment by Bruce Vilanch, Camille West, Dame Edna, Michael Walters, Sharon McKnight and Stritch. The Mansion Inn provides an ideal setting for these special performances and hopes to offer a similar program in 2013.

Historic Day at the Races

Guests at Saratoga Bridges’ 23rd annual Travers Day at the Races received an unexpected event perk, witnessing history as the mid-summer derby ended in its first dead heat since 1874.

Executive director Valerie Muratori, chief financial officer Jane Mastaitis, and development coordinator Heather Varney welcomed 280 friends to the Carousel Restaurant at Saratoga Race Course last Saturday, August 25. The day was a special salute to the many companies sponsoring Saratoga Bridges throughout the season, including their 2012 presenter, The Adirondack Trust Company. A highlight of the afternoon was Muratori’s presentation to Paul Robbins, Market Director for DIAGEO, recognizing the company’s extraordinary contributions. This and many other events would not be as successful as they are without DIAGEO’s continued support. More than 50 guests of DIAGEO and Empire Merchants North joined Robbins for the celebration.

Additional sponsors in attendance were Coca-Cola, New Country Scion of Saratoga, The Bonadio Group, Stewart’s Shops and NBT Bank. Seen hopping between the luncheon buffet and the betting windows were Dave Crossett, George Hathaway, Stephan von Schenk, Paul von Schenk, Dan Klouse, Bob and Cathy McKenna, Blair and Phyllis Bynum, Mike Bowker, Peter Brown, John and Linda Ciulla, Monika Kierach Cronin, Marne Onderdonk and Karen Heggen, board vice president.

It was a winning occasion all around, with close to $14,000 raised for Saratoga Bridges. The non-profit, one of the largest in the county, has provided programs for people with developmental disabilities and their families for over 55 years, making their goals, hopes and dreams a reality.

Denim, Diamonds and Donations

Barbara Banke, owner of Stonestreet Farm and chair of Kendall-Jackson, was honored at Denim & Diamonds, the 15th annual benefit for the Belmont Child Care Association, held at the Gideon Putnam on August 23. Accepting the recognition, Banke encouraged others to join her in support of Anna House, BCCA’s early childhood center for children of the backstretch, and pledged that at least 50% of Stonestreet winnings earned in upcoming New York races will be donated to the organization.

(Visit Saratoga TODAY on Facebook to view more photos from Denim & Diamonds.)

Travers Toasts

Honorary chair Susanna Lia greeted more than 350 raising a toast to Senior Services of Albany at the 14th annual Travers Wine Tasting last Friday, August 24. Guests arriving at the National Museum of Racing received complimentary glasses courtesy of presenting sponsor Time Warner Cable and plates from the New York State Automobile Dealers Association, arming them with the tools necessary to fully enjoy an evening of fine food and beverages.

Some of the Capital Region’s best cuisine was served by Classé Catering, Creo’, Farm House, Mazzone Hospitality, Angelo’s 677 Prime and Meals on Wheels. Robert and Gail Dollar sampled chicken liver paté and bruschetta from Capriccio Saratoga, while Todd and Holly Garofano chatted with Bob McNamara and Victoria Menneto at the Yono’s station. That’s Different Chocolates offered pieces of white chocolate Irish cream and crispy bacon pizza (bacon bits and potato chips encrusted in chocolate). Confectioner Mark Shaw explained how the unusual ingredients enhance each flavor as Irene and Bill Stevenson tried the key lime chipotle-lemon.

Of course, the food was just a complement to the stars of the evening, over 80 wines and 18 craft beers. Presented by World Class Beverages, a division of DeCrescente Distributing, the beer tasting included lagers and ales from Olde Saratoga Brewing Company, Brooklyn Lager, Brewery Ommegang and Merchant du Vin. Susan Sotile and Dick Rosbrook, both from First Niagara, volunteered at one of the booths, tapping Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale from Tadcaster, England, and Bavaria’s Ayinger Brau Weisse.

For the wine lover, tables were set to pour the bubbles of Moet & Chandon and Atwater, Damiani favorites from Lemberger to Pinot Grigio, pretty La Marca Prosecco, refreshing Bergerac Sauvignon Blanc Sec, and bold cabernets like Joseph Phelps and B Side. The Adirondack Winery showcased their Semillon, gold medal winner of the 2011 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, and a food-friendly Tempranillo that took the silver medal at the 2011 INDY International Wine Competition. Celia Fulfs of Kenwood Vintners provided tastes of the winery’s Sonoma Moscato, Sonoma Gewurztraminer, Russian River Pinot Noir and Jack London Syrah to Russ Sealy of Mannix Marketing and his friends, Molly Chiang, Andrew Parsons, Lindsay Kollmeier and Kevin O’Connor. Also spotted sipping the Kenwood wines were committee member Michelle Borisenok, Debi Sullivan, LeGrande Serras, Faith Takes and Tom DiPalermo.

Patty and Jeff Novo, owners of Crush & Cask, one of the night’s lead supporters, staffed the Martin Scott table, recommending Elk Cove Pinot Gris to pair with Asian-inspired dishes, and a Cliff Lede Cabernet from the Stags Leap District to complement risotto with truffles. The lucky couple was well-positioned under the courtyard tent and could take in both the beautiful summer weather and music by The Jazz Trio featuring Jill Hughes. Nearby, Francisco Padilla rolled cigars for aficionados to purchase, with proceeds being donated back to Senior Services from the Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe.

In the VIP Room, Christopher and Courtney Burke, Susan Pedo and Bryan Valenti sipped Kimberley and Bill Comiskey’s Chloe Creek Pinot Noir. The couple, celebrating Bill’s birthday that night, split time between the Capital Region and Sonoma’s Russian River Valley where their vineyard produces about 450 cases of pinot noir each year. They have published an incredible cookbook of restaurant dishes that complement the wine, from Lake Placid to the Hudson Valley. All profits benefit the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Albany Medical Center.

Others seen at the tasting were Elizabeth Tanny, Chris Minahan, Tukee Jay, Nick and Charlene Marino, Malissa and Jon Zatlokowicz, Mike Belsky, Tom Pillsworth, Bob and Monica Marini, Melissa and Eric Murphy, Congressman Paul Tonko, Neil and Amy Levine, David and Diana Hannoush, Liz Bishop and committee member Paula McCormick, as well as several members of the Lia Family.

If the food and wine weren’t entertainment enough, attendees could also have their caricature drawn by Jeanne Benas or shop the 60 silent auction items. The night ended with a live auction in the Hall of Fame and delectable delights from Professor Java’s and dp-An American Brasserie. Bidding was fast and furious on vacations in Cabo San Lucas, the Bahamas, Steamboat Springs and Florida, in addition to an exquisite set from Hannoush Jewelers, a girls’ day out for four at Kimberley’s Day Spa, and the chance to be sous chef for a day at Angelo’s Tavolo or Prime at Saratoga National.

Development director Donna VanCavage reports that this was the best event to date, netting over $85,000 for the Meals on Wheels program at Senior Services of Albany. Since 1954, the organization has fostered independence and enhanced the quality of life of older adults. Over 450 volunteers work with Senior Services of Albany to provide services for homebound seniors, enabling them to remain at home and independent. Meals on Wheels drivers not only deliver needed nutrition but extend a personal ‘life-line’ through their daily visits.

Fashion Forward

The 14th annual Saratoga Fashion Show was held on Thursday, August 23, in the track’s At the Rail Pavilion. This year’s event honored Natalie Sillery of Saratoga Trunk for her unwavering commitment to the Ronald McDonald House Charities fundraiser since its inception. Executive director Jeff Yule said, “Natalie’s generosity is unbelievable! She is truly dedicated to the cause and never seeks any recognition for her hard work and countless contributions to RMHC and our families.”

Prior to the program and runway show, 500 stylish attendees sipped champagne, courtesy of Crush & Cask, while perusing the silent auction. Among those in the well-dressed crowd were event chair Deb Perez and her husband Felix, Ann Marie and Frankie Flores, Chris and Meghan Cook, Mara King, Larry and Carole Jenne, Lisa Sondhof and Saratoga TODAY’s Chad Beatty with his lovely wife, Kim. The Smile Sanctuary’s Dr. Mark Moreau was eager to find the perfect spot to applaud his wife, Carole, an RMHC board member, and his office manager, Leisha Arbogast. Both ladies were modeling.

Shortly after 11:30 a.m., Yule took the stage, and following a brief welcome, handed the microphone to Mayor Scott Johnson for a surprise announcement to kick off the celebration. Noting her immeasurable time and energy over the past two decades, in addition to her tireless volunteerism, thoughtful stewardship and generous spirit, the Mayor declared August 23 to be “Natalie Sillery Day” in Saratoga Springs. The presentation concluded with the spirited ‘Trunkette’ toast, recited by the models who had slipped in to applaud the woman who brings them together each year in support of RMHC.

Moved to tears, Sillery quickly thanked everyone, and in her humble way, moved into the planned program. She told the story of Shannon Samascott, who had stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia after the birth of her twins. Samascott felt blessed by the experience and joined Sillery to walk the runway of love with her sweet little girls.

Designer Kay Unger was as touched as the audience. She spoke briefly about her recent decision to leave the company that bears her name and channel her enthusiasm into philanthropic efforts. To that end, she wrote a $5,000 check on the spot for RMHC, in honor of families like the Samascott’s.

Finally, Don O’Neill of Theia joined Sillery on the stage. The two have been partners in success for the last four years of the Saratoga Fashion Show. This year, it took on a greater poignancy for O’Neill as he recounted his own stay in a place similar to the Ronald McDonald House earlier this summer. He had returned to his native Ireland and was grateful for the chance to stay close to his mom during her final days. While RMHC had always been important, the role they play for so many facing the illness of a loved one had taken on a new significance for him.

Lightening the mood, the program segued into the much anticipated runway show. Foregoing commentary for the live music of the Audiostars’ Bobbie Van Detta, Sillery presented a stunning show, staged in designer ‘acts’ that featured fashions by Zelda, whose own Lisa Attea helped dress the models, Kay Unger, and of course, O’Neill’s Theia. Topping the outfits was millinery from Christine A. Moore, Cat Stevens Derby Couture, Jill Henning Fineries, Carol Bader, Mona the Madhatter, Moira Bagale, and That Garrison Girl. Jewelry by Peter Ciesla of Bazyli Studio added the finishing touch.

Julie Johnson modeled one of the highlights of the show, a jacket Ciesla designed, printed with the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Also in the model line-up were Melissa Ward, Gayle LaSalle, Jayne McCarthy, Kathy Funk, Mary Beth Allen, Anne Donlan, Michele Funiciello, Casey Coyle, Colleen Carlson, Mary Ferguson, Amy Raimo, Corey Lindley, Zoe Alexander, Christianne Smith, Benita Zahn, Angela Schmeed, Tara Burnham, Luci Cody, Bridget Milot, Chris Harmon, Heather Straughter, Leah Slocum, Ciara Austin, Milly Goble, Jane Trinidad Hennes, Lisa Barber, Eliza DeRocker, BJ Pierce, Tracy Carey, Nicole Dergosits and committee members Joyce Austin, Elaine Sillery and Kate Otis. Keeping it all running smoothly backstage were Ilene Kahn, Joanne Finn, Suzanne Allrich, April Hall, Rebecca Beers and Alexis Mokler. O’Neill’s partner, Pascal, lent much needed help too, and was seen firmly fastening metal headwear by Joni Sarah White atop Abby Lee’s head. She personified Theia’s Goddess warrior!

Sillery always includes models with personal connections to RMHC. This year, she spotlighted author Janine Cammarata, who founded Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation in memory of her son. Nick died from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in October 2008. His spirit lives on, helping other young cancer patients through the Foundation, which has received grant funding from the Ronald McDonald Charities of Albany.

After an afternoon of fashion, food, fillies and fun, the event raised $120,000 for RMHC, thanks in great part to Sillery and sponsors like Northwestern Mutual/The Tronco Financial Group, Turbine Services Ltd. and the Riggi Family, BlueShield of Northeastern New York, Saratoga Casino & Raceway and Lemery Greisler LLC.

Need an RSVP?

The summer season may be coming to a close, but the parties and causes are year-round in Saratoga. RSVP will continue to showcase events on a monthly basis. To be included in the spotlight of upcoming benefits, or request onsite coverage, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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