Record crowd attends FSPL Black-tie Bingo

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 117 views 

It was a record-setting night for the Fort Smith Public Library on Saturday (Nov. 9) as its Black-Tie Bingo event drew its largest crowd to date. Nearly 200 guests came out for the sixth-annual gala to support the FSPL Endowment Trust.

Hosted at the library's Main Branch on Rogers Avenue, the event kicked off with a cocktail reception in the building's main lobby. Guests dined on hors d'oeuvres and drinks while listening to the music of the Don Bailey Jazz Ensemble.

The crowd then made its way upstairs where they perused the silent auction tables. Dozens of items were included in this year's auction, including a football and jersey autographed by Razorback Tyler Wilson, and a Duck Dynasty package, complete with tea glass signed by one of the show's stars, Si Robertson. A number of big-ticket items were also up for grabs, including a Golf Getaway Package to Pinehurst, N.C., and the chance to host a dinner party for 12 at the home of Sharon Sicard in Fort Smith.

After placing their initial bids, guests headed into the formal dining area to enjoy a sit-down dinner and hear music performed by the band Sweet and Lowdown. As the five-course meal got underway, Georgianna Yerton, FSPL Endowment Advisory Board Chair, welcomed the crowd and shared some history of the library's signature fundraiser.

"This year's Black-Tie Bingo is our biggest and best yet," announced Yerton. "In its six years, this event has raised more than $177,000 for the endowment. Thank you for your continued interest in making our library the best. We can't operate at this level of excellence without your support."

Yerton noted that the library is not fully-funded by taxpayer dollars and that the endowment helps to fill the gap.

"The endowment trust helps with projects such as the Christmas lights display, library decor, and the popular Dewey's Cafe."

The gala serves as the primary fundraiser for the library's endowment trust. Tickets for the event were $100. In 2012, Black-Tie Bingo raised more than $35,000 for the FSPL trust. In addition to the projects Yerton cited, the endowment also supports the long-term efforts and sustainability of the library and helps guarantee that it will be in operation for future generations.

Before the games began, FSPL Director Jennifer Goodson and FSPL Development Director Cindy Long also took to the stage to share information about the library and endowment.

"Did you know that on January 1 our library will turn 106 years old?," asked Goodson. "We look pretty good for 106, don't we? The great news is that our libraries are as busy as ever. Last year we had more than 434,000 people visit one of four locations."

Goodson informed the audience about a number of new services the library added in the last year, noting that funding had not increased for the library, thus forcing the organization to make dollars stretch even further.

"If you know me, you know that I often say the Fort Smith Public Library stretches a dime into a dollar every time, and that's what we've been doing. We juggled some money around, cancelled some things, downsized others. You can only do that so long, before you start to impact things that are really meaningful to people. That's why we are working so hard to grow the library's endowment, and why I want to take this minute to thank you all of you for the difference you are making to the library."

Following dinner, guests broke out their daubers for the gaming portion of the event. Television news anchor Daren Bobb served as the evening's emcee and official Bingo caller. Bobb enlisted the help of several guests, including Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders, to help him announce numbers.

Guests played a full ten rounds of Bingo and also took their chances with a 50/50 drawing. Winners from each round received a special prize, which ranged from dance lessons to restaurant gift certificates. The evening concluded with coffee, dessert and specialty liqueurs, as gala-goers checked-out and headed home with their Bingo and auction wins.

For more information about the Fort Smith Public Library or the FSPL Endowment Trust, contact Cindy Long at 783-0229.