There are certain images in fantasies about romance - fine wine, delicious food, candlelight - and all were on hand at
the Night in Venice (Italy) fundraiser Sunday.
Joanie Fraughton, executive director of the Durango Independent Film Festival, the cause for which all were
gathered, and Peggy Russell, owner of the Costume Emporium, did a masterful job of designing their notte so couples
seeking romance could enjoy an intimate dinner, while many of the other guests could socialize and table hop for a
different kind of good time.
The event was held at the Abbey Theatre, and the mood was set as soon as guests arrived. Russell had dressed a
mannequin in pseudo-Italian garb of the mid-18th century, a reference to the evening's grand finale, a screening of the
2005 Lasse Hallström film Casanova." (A fundraiser for a film festival has to include a film, after all.)
But before the lights went all the way down, women guests arrived to find a peach rose at their place settings,courtesy of April's Garden, a freshly poured glass of champagne with the compliments of Wagon Wheel Liquors and an
elegant plate of bruschetta. One was shrimp tapenade, the second was fig and prosciutto, and the final was white bean
purée with caviar, all perfect for whetting the palate. All of the delicious food was prepared and donated by Rustin
Newton, owner and executive chef of Mutu's Italian Kitchen, and his staff.
He had prepared a delightful three-course meal, beginning with a crisp salad of field greens with ricotta salata and
A buffet featuring penne pasta with pesto, chicken marsala, pork loin agridolce, featuring raisins, onions and
tomatoes, and green beans with onions and pancetta served as the main course. The food was so good that the only
conversation as guests returned to their tables was mmm, aah, and so on.
Sometimes, desserts after such a rich meal can be too much. Newton used a light touch, serving a panna cotta with berry
compote with the lightest pastry imaginable, a puff-pastry twist. Yum.
Throughout the evening, a travelogue of Italy shot from helicopters and flowing by on the screen was a backdrop to the
meal. Guests were constantly turning around to see where the film was at this point or that point. And more than a few
were talking about grabbing their passports and heading off to la bella Italia as soon as possible.
The evening stayed on theme throughout. Ken Beegles, dressed as a paisan," provided the soundtrack to the evening on
his accordion, and the servers were all dressed as gondoliers.
Other sponsors for the evening included Bank of the San Juans, the Leland House and Rochester Hotel, Durango Party
Rental, The Pharmakon, Blue Lake Ranch, Suddenly Slender and Southern Wine and Spirits.
The movie, which starred the late Heath Ledger as the legendary lover - and leaver - of women, Giacomo Casanova, was a
beautifully filmed romp through Venice full of farce, mistaken identities and, despite the title, true love.
This, of course, was a teaser. The Durango Independent Film Festival officially begins March 3 and runs to March 7.
It's time to start planning so you can make it to as many as possible.
Wondering if they'll be celebrating their birthdays with sunshine or snow showers are Mike Grandin, Jim West, Ron
Morris, Kyle Odin, Benito Salinas, Debbie Chilcoat, Amber Ortiz, Mark Bauer, Jeff Ugai, Ethan Reimers, Liana Bygel,Dick Pearson and Ellen Patterson.
Special greetings go out to little Maryann Fassett, who is celebrating her first birthday this year.
There are certain immutable forces in the world - hurricanes, avalanches and mudslides are just a few that come to
But one of the greatest powers in the world is what happens when a group of women decide to make a difference.
At the beginning of the year, the Women's Resource Center announced that it was reviving Womenade. It's a great
concept, and it's good to see it back. Here's how it works - a group of women gathers to make donations to causes that
have been selected in what the WRC calls a grassroots charity program.
The first gathering was held Feb. 4 at the Rochester Hotel. For about an hour and a half, more than 40 women
enjoyed conversation, laughter, great hors d'oeuvres, wine and a determination to do good.
Each woman gave what she could. The total raised? More than $1,000.
This time, for the kickoff, four families were selected to be helped.
One is a family with three children, one of whom, a 2-year-old, has cerebral palsy. They asked for assistance with a
payment on a wheelchair-accessible van so they can take the child to physical therapy and medical appointments.
Another was a family of five. They needed help with utility bills, car insurance and a bill from the eye doctor so they
could get their daughter glasses.
The third was a single mother with a 10-year-old daughter. While she is separated from her husband, her wages are being
garnished to pay for debts he incurred. She needed help with her car-insurance payments.
Finally, a construction worker who has four children has found that his unemployment checks just barely cover living
expenses. He needed help with a car payment.
If Womenade sounds like something you would be interested in attending, the next gathering will be held at noon March
25 at the Rochester. This time it will be a brown-bag lunch.
For more information, and to learn other ways to support the good work of the WRC, call 247-1242 or e-mail
My thanks to Deborah Uroda, WRC's fund development and marketing director, for keeping me updated on what the
organization is doing.
Extending Valentine's Day romance through their anniversary are Jim and Nan Wassmund.
For information on upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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