One attendee at our inaugural July 10th fundraiser, The Gardens Uncorked, may have said it best, “The Peel Compton Foundation is providing a new venue for fun and preservation.” As someone who has been in the fundraising profession for more years than I care to admit, too often organizations forget that a fundraiser should first and foremost start with the first three letters FUNdraiser. In fact this was made very clear to me, as I handed out a specially made trivet featuring one of our bridges as a memento of the evening, several thanked all of us for a “great party.” That is a very telling statement when the enjoyment of the evening takes over the goal of that event. Mary Jordan and Rhonda French, co-chairs for the event, deserve much of the credit.
We were very fortunate that the weather cooperated by being cooler and no rain. We chose an 8 p.m. start because July can be very uncomfortable. Dusk also created a more dramatic effect with the candles all lit and illuminating the trails throughout the garden. There were three stations in the gardens, with the last in the sales office and Compton Interpretative Wall. Guests started off at the three bears statue near the trail that leads to the construction site for Crystal Bridges. (We are becoming known as the pedestrian entrance to that much-anticipated facility.)
All were separated into small groups led by master gardeners trained as docents to lead the party-goers through the grounds and identify the native Ozark flora, fauna, and trees. While sampling wine, superb trays of food had been prepared by Donna Welsh that included such fare as herb roasted tenderloin w/burgundy horseradish sauce with mini yeast rolls and fresh gazpacho served in 3 ounce dispensers to an incredible dessert table located inside featuring chocolate-cherry cannolis and brie with brandied Anjou pears and a coffee bar.
The highlight of the evening was the unveiling of the iconic canoe that had belonged to the late Dr. Neil Compton, for whom the Gardens and Conference Center are named. Kevin Cherie, Superintendent of the Buffalo National River, and Ellen Compton, daughter of the late Dr. Compton, helped in the unveiling. For those who had grown up in Bentonville, the canoe brought back many memories of the canoe resting on top of the house, strung with lights, with a seated Santa.
Many thanks go to our sponsors: Mitchell Williams Law Firm which helped make many of the “extras” possible, Libby for their donation of the beautiful glassware, and last but certainly not least, Macadoodles for providing so many excellent and varied wines. We discovered that the Hahn Pinot Noir 2008 went quickly and was ranked first with Simi Sonoma County Chardonnary 2008 second, and the Gnarly Head Pinot Noir 2008 coming in third.
Please see the photo album to discover in more detail how the event looked in pictures. We plan to make this an annual event so if you did enjoy yourself, become a friend on our facebook page and let others know about your experience.