Time to purchase the gowns and polish the shoes because Fort Worth's spring social season is here. The menu of marvelous soirees includes a number of events unfolding at exciting new venues (Dickies Arena is hot, hot, hot). The arts groups are staging star-studded galas, top local chefs are cooking for causes, and ladies (and gents) who lunch will enjoy many hours of mimosa-fueled fun. Here are the dates every social butterfly in Fort Worth should pencil in now.
Junior League of Fort Worth Grand Entry Gala, January 11
Gala season comes barreling into town with Junior League of Fort Worth's annual Grand Entry Gala. The Western-chic evening features dinner, dancing, cocktails, silent auction, and a concert by Darius Rucker (for which concert tickets are still available, even at this late hour). The 2020 gala will celebrate Junior League's 90th year serving Fort Worth. The event — previously held on "the dirt floor" of Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum — takes place for the first time at Dickies Arena and serves as the kickoff for the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, which officially starts on January 17. Grand Entry Gala supports the organization's mission to promote volunteerism, develop the potential in women, and improve the lives of women and children in Fort Worth.
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Immortal Beloved 250 Gala, February 8
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will celebrate both Beethoven (happy 250th birthday!) and also Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who is in his final season as FWSO music director. The gala concert will feature the FWSO performing Beethoven's majestic Fifth Symphony. Then one-named violin superstar Midori joins them to play Beethoven's monumental Violin Concerto. The Bass Hall concert will be followed by a black-tie dinner-dance in the Grand Ballroom of the Worthington Renaissance Hotel, featuring live music by Time Machine Band. Mercedes T. Bass is the gala chair, with Ashli Blumenfeld, Mary Lipscomb, Frasher Pergande, and Jonathan T. Suder serving as co-chairs. Concert tickets may be purchased separately.
St. Jude Celebration at Sundown, February 22
Taking place at Shipping and Receiving, this annual affair will benefit the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The evening will include silent and live auctions, dancing, drinks, dinner, and live entertainment by hilarious improv group Four Day Weekend. It promises to be a powerful evening, with a special emphasis on the challenges that teen cancer patients face. Patrons will hear from a 15-year-old named Cole, a local cancer survivor and former St. Jude patient who just got his learner's permit. Families who go to St. Jude never receive a bill from them for treatment, travel, housing, or food.
Jewel Charity Ball, February 29
The most glittering gala of them all, the 66th Annual Jewel Charity Ball will be the first black-tie event held at the new Dickies Arena, on Leap Day, February 29. This year’s president, Lou Martin has picked the theme “One Enchanted Evening.” The gala will feature live music, dinner, dancing, silent auction, and raffles for fabulous items such as a Neiman Marcus shopping spree, Italian dream getaway, and even a choice of car from Autobahn dealership. Fort Worth’s longest standing formal gala is a celebration to honor Jewel Charity Angels, and proceeds provide access to care for the patients at Cook Children’s Hospital.
Go Red for Women Luncheon, March 6
If a room full of thousands of women working together to erase heart disease and stroke with the American Heart Association doesn't get your blood pumping, then really, what will? This girl power-fueled fete will take place at The Omni Fort Worth Hotel. The 2020 movement chair is Karen Thornton, and luncheon chair is Sharon Stufflebeme. There's a lot to love about this luncheon because they offer on-site health screenings, which is the kind of proactive philanthropy that every multi-tasking attendee can appreciate. After the luncheon, be sure to save the date for Heart Ball, which is May 2, with more details to be announced soon.
Ablaze: Igniting Passion for a Cure, March 19-20
This two-night event, a fundraiser for the North Central Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, is a 24-hour steer roast like only Cowtown can do. Night one offers an exclusive opportunity to "fire it up" and mingle with participating local celebrity chefs, including Lou Lambert, who will be presiding over the pit at Whiskey Ranch. Then go back the next night for a meaty dinner, auction, and entertainment under the stars. It all supports the mission to fight and cure Alzheimer's.
Butterfly Wishes Gala, March 20
A Wish with Wings has been bringing joyful experiences to children with life-threatening medical conditions since 1983. This year's Butterfly Wishes Gala, themed "Where the Wish Begins" (get it, Fort Worth?), will honor Texas country music star Sonny Burgess and his wife, Jolie, with the 2020 Rosie Moncrief Wings of Hope Award; Loretta and Don S. Marable are chairing the event. The heartwarming gala, taking place at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, features not only dinner and dancing to Raised Right Men, but a presentation by a former "Wish Kid" whose diagnosis of cancer at 3 years old inspired her to become a doctor.
Design Inspirations, March 25-26
If you get inspired by pretty homes and pretty things, this is the event to attend. 2020 marks the 27th anniversary of this beloved luncheon, a fundraiser at Ridglea Country Club thrown by the Fort Worth Alumnae Associations of Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi. Gill Children’s Services and Rivertree Academy are this year's beneficiaries. The event features more than 60 tables elaborately decorated by local interior designers, florists, and creative individuals. There are two chances to see them — at the Preview Party (with cocktails, dinner, and entertainment) the evening of March 25, or at the Luncheon on March 26. Entertaining guru and author Bronson Van Wyck will give the keynote speech, and his just-published book, “Born to Party, Forced to Work: 21st Century Hospitality,” will be featured. Tickets are sold separately for each event.
Classically Cliburn Gala, April 3
Guests love this gala because (among other reasons) it's like an elegant dinner party at someone's home — once you reserve a spot, there are no additional requests to open your pocketbook at the party. Gala-goers get to drink, eat, dance, and enjoy the chance to mingle with Fort Worth's most influential patrons of arts and culture — all while remembering namesake Van Cliburn. This year, the black-tie ball goes to New Orleans. "Classically Cliburn Gala 2019: NOLA" will feature elegant Garden District decor, a Carousel Bar, and Big Swing band. The gala also moves to an exciting new location: Simmons Bank Pavilion at Dickies Arena, an indoor pavilion on the grounds of the new arena. Event co-chairs are Jennifer and Philip Williamson, and honorary chair is Gail Rawl.
Puttin' on the Pink Luncheon, April 8
This fashion-focused luncheon brings all the high heels to the Fort Worth Convention Center. It's hosted by the Kupferle Health Board of Texas Health Resources Foundation and supports mobile health outreach and screenings for underserved women in Tarrant County. Co-chairs Kristi Christensen and Lisa Ferrand — and their mile-long host committee of influential Fort Worth women — are planning a sit-down lunch and a fashion show of the latest looks from Dallas designer Patti Flowers, St. John, Q Clothier, Tootsies, and You Are Here. Dress to impress.
Fort Worth Opera Gala, April 18
Fort Worth Opera keeps patrons on their toes, changing its creative gala themes and locations every year. But the gala has become a must-attend in recent years — if for no other reason than to feast on the cuisine of a well-known Fort Worth chef. This year, Grace executive chef Blaine Staniford takes over the kitchen at Whiskey Ranch for a four-course, seasonally inspired menu. The "Masked Gala" — tied to the FWO's premiere of Zorro during its festival — promises to be an intriguing evening of food, wine, cocktails, and, of course, music. Fort Worth-born soprano Vanessa Becerra and baritone Curt Olds will entertain, and guests are encouraged to wear masks.
Ally's Wish Boots & Blessings Gala, April 18
Ally's Wish is a sweet, life-changing organization that few folks have heard of — yet. It grants a "last wish" to terminally ill mothers with young children — a memory for the family that will last a lifetime. Ally's Wish is named for a local woman named Allyson who passed away of ovarian cancer in 2014, leaving a husband and three young sons. This year's Boots & Blessings party will be a Western-chic gala, complete with dinner, auctions, cocktails and boot-scooting, at Austin Ranch in Grapevine. Dallas Cowboys legend Tony Casillas and his wife, Tamara, are the event chairs, with Real Housewives of Dallas star LeeAnne Locken and her husband, Rich Emberlin, serving as honorary chairs.
Casa Mañana Gala, May 8
Guests of Casa Mañana Theatre's swanky 2020 soiree will party the night away at "Havana Nights," the theme of this year's gala. The evening includes cocktails, dinner, silent and live auctions, and dancing to the sounds of Inversion Band. It all takes place in the Claudia Stepp Grand Lobby of Fort Worth's famous silver-domed theater. Proceeds benefit the theater's arts education and outreach initiatives.
Evening of Hope Gala, May 16
This annual black-tie gala benefits AIDS Outreach Center and is the largest fundraiser for HIV/AIDS in Fort Worth. This year's event, taking place at the Ridglea Country Club, has a Roaring '20s theme and will include auctions, dinner, cocktails, and entertainment. Co-chairs Scott W. Green and Karen McKenzie and honorary chairs Dr. Cheryl McDonald and Dr. Kevin Connelly have planned a night to celebrate achievements, combat stigma, and honor those who have made a substantial impact locally in the fight against HIV/AIDS.