LEXINGTON, KY (July 19, 2016) – The Keene Barn & Entertainment Center hosted 500 guests of Central Kentucky Riding for Hope for its 13th annual NIGHT OF THE STARS gala fundraiser on the evening of Saturday, June 18. Keeneland Hospitality worked with CKRH to put on the perfect event, which featured cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and a dinner buffet, along with live and silent auctions, a special guest speaker and dancing, grossing $224,500 for CKRH, the 35-year-old program at the Kentucky Horse Park that offers a variety of equine-assisted activities and therapies.
Every edition of NIGHT OF THE STARS has been held at Keeneland, which is uniquely suited to hold the event’s indoor and outside activities. The highlight of the evening is the live auction of CKRH students and therapy horses in themed costumes in the style of Keeneland’s prestigious Thoroughbred auctions with complementary music for each character. The theme of this year’s event was “Horse Power.”
Several days before the event each year, Keeneland Hospitality works with CKRH to build the custom event setup. Tents are erected just outside the Entertainment Center to accommodate the stabling area for the horses and the outdoor auction arena where the horses, who arrive the morning of the event, are paraded before a seated crowd while an auctioneer takes bids from an elevated podium. The highest bidder for each of the eight lots receives a year’s sponsorship of the horse.
“Keeneland offers a perfect venue due to the central location, picturesque setting, the size and space of the facility and its association with and understanding of horses and the people who love them,” CKRH Board Member Kari Simon said. “The staff is professional, accommodating and goes the extra mile to help make our event a success.”
The Keeneland team who assisted CKRH with planning and conducting NIGHT OF THE STARS included Sarah Deye and Morgan Whitney from Keeneland Hospitality, whose Executive Chef, Marc Therrien, created a custom buffet menu that featured roast chicken coq au vin, carved slow-roast New York strip, salads and vegetables and a tempting dessert that awaited guests at their tables.
For the event, members of Keeneland’s Broadcast Services Department ensured a high-quality A/V production. Employees in other departments, from Maintenance to Building Services, contributed to its success.
“That collaboration among departments is my favorite part about Keeneland,” Deye said. “We are a mini-city and when you have events here, you get the support of the whole team.”
“Keeneland is the perfect backdrop for our equine fundraising event,” CKRH Executive Director Pat Kline said. “The staff at Keeneland Hospitality is always responsive and keeps the line of communication flowing. Our event takes a great deal of setup, and we always appreciate the way Keeneland works with us to make it happen.”
Working together also occurs after the event. Several weeks after NIGHT OF THE STARS, Keeneland and CKRH representatives met to recap the event. The next gala is scheduled for June 24, 2017.