story and photos by Emily Hilley-Sierzchula, special to The City Wire
About 250 people rocked the night away Friday (Oct. 18) at the second annual A Night at the Speakeasy, which is the primary fundraiser for the Junior Auxiliary of Rogers-Bentonville.
Partygoers dressed in their best 1920s-era attire. Most male partygoers wore hats, a signature of the decade; women wore gowns and dressed to the hilt. Fayetteville's Wes Hart Band dazzled the crowd with a diverse range of tunes ranging from Johnny Cash to Adele.
Guests enjoyed P.F. Chang's China Bistro for supper and cheesecake for dessert.
The fundraiser was expected to raise $20,000, said Julienne Springer, JARB ex officio and spokeswoman. About half of the money came from ticket sales and half from the silent auction, she said.
"The purpose of this party is to celebrate the service of our members and also to raise money," Springer said. "Almost all of the money will go toward our programs, whether it's buying books for kids or helping out with the Head Start program."
The JARB partners with other charities to "fill in the cracks," she said.
"We are a hands-on organization. For instance, we're known as the birthday ladies to the Head Start kids because once a month we go in and celebrate their birthdays. We give them gifts, sing to them and spend time on crafts," Springer said. "A lot of times that's the only present these kids get."
A renovated horse barn in Bentonville served as the last-minute location for the event after the first venue went out of business unexpectedly. The barn, WaterWay, serves as a meeting place for the First Christian Church.
"The pastor of the church, Don Morrow, graciously offered to let us hold the event here because his wife, Laurie, is a JARB member," Springer said.
The benefit evolved from a wine and cheese tasting event three years ago to a full-fledged fundraiser.
"We've grown every year, it's been amazing," Springer said. "We'd like to keep the event around this size because it's more intimate that way."
"Our members give their time, hands, head and hearts" to children and young adults in Northwest Arkansas, Springer said.