The 48th annual Heritage Ball was a community gala; a preservation of traditions, friendships and history; and a celebration of nature “and the artisans whose creative brilliance is touched by the splendor of the outdoors as their muse,” which inspired the decor theme of the event.
The longest-running black-tie fundraiser in Williamson County was an opportunity to put on the ritz after a year of COVID-19 pandemic worries that sent everyone distancing and laying low.
More than 750 guests did just that Saturday. They filled the big tent on the Eastern Flank Battlefield Park, which was transformed into a wispy walk through a garden of vines and flowers, and participated a silent auction with enough variety to please everyone.
The event began with a cocktail reception and time to mingle and check out the silent auction. The 2021 Heritage Ball gin-based signature drink, aptly called the Preservationist, was the creation of McConnell Hospitality Group Beverage Director Chris Capaldi.
During the seated dinner, Heritage Ball Chairs Dr. Allen and Shawne Sills thanked committee members for their work creating the atmosphere of the night and helped Heritage Foundation Board Chair David Garrett present the Patron Award to Sondra Morris. The award recognizes an individual or organization that has shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to historic preservation efforts in Williamson County.
Morris serves as vice chair of Franklin Grove and is a donor of the Heritage Foundation’s largest project, Franklin Grove and Gardens. She is also on the Heritage Foundation Board of Directors.
“Sondra is an example of what makes our community so special,” Garrett said. “She is a volunteer, a donor and has spent countless hours working one on one with our amazing landscape architects to bring to life the vision of the gardens at Franklin Grove. She is passionate; she gives of her time, talent and resources; and, most importantly, she gives of herself.”
The Sills announced local internationally recognized fine art photographer Jack Spencer as the 2021 recipient of the Heritage Foundation’s Tracy Frist Legacy Award. Frist is a Heritage Foundation board member and a conservationist who embodies the American spirit with interests that include horses, agriculture, writing and education and the desire to create a legacy for the people and places that mean so much to her.
The award recognizes individuals or groups whose work “creates a lasting legacy of American history through preservation and conservation of historical resources” and engages the public and scholars who can impact American’s appreciation of events, places and stories of the American experience.
“The award is bestowed upon an individual who embodies the American spirit and whose body of work on a national or international level lifts up the efforts of historic preservation,” Allen Sills said. “Jack Spencer’s art speaks to preservationists today, giving his audience far beyond what the eye or camera can see.”
The live high-dollar auction brought in a total of $109,000 towards the night’s $750,000 fundraising goal.
The highest bid for the 2021 Yukon Denali full-size SUV was $83,000. The Liquid Chef Rob Floyd Cocktail Theater for 20 people hit a high bid of $8,000, and two grandstand tickets to the Kentucky Derby, along with several amenities including a three-night stay at a select hotel in Louisville, rooftop terrace hospitality and more, brought in $9,000 with two additional tickets and amenities added to the bundle, doubling the cache.
Proceeds from the more than 100 silent auction items and donations were still being counted at publishing time.
The Heritage Ball also featured the Next Gen Late Party for young professionals interested in becoming involved with historic preservation.
Another highlight of the evening was the performance by MCA Nashville recording artist Josh Turner, who sang several of his famous tunes, including “Long Black Train,” “Your Man” and “Would You Go with Me.” Following Turner’s performance, guests danced to the music of Uptown Live.