Art’s Enter’s 15th Annual “Benefit By The Bay”- A Smashing Success

by: Marlene email

Every June  for the past 15 years, one of  the Eastern Shore of  Virginia’s  primary arts groups,  Art’s Enter,  has  hosted a huge benefit party,  “Benefit By The Bay“,  to raise money for the expenses of running the organization and maintaining the historic Palace Threatre in Cape Charles.  This year’s Benefit was, as usual,  a smashing success.  The brainchild of Clelia Sheppard,  one of Art’s Enter’s original founders,  Benefit By The Bay  attracts people from all over who come to enjoy a  wonderful  evening of  delicious food and wines  followed by dancing till midnight under the stars.  And a Silent Auction.  Irresistable !

2011 “Benefit By The Bay” sponsored by Art’s Enter, Cape Charles, Virginia

Although other commitments have prevented us from attending every single year,  my husband and I have been to about 9 or 10 Benefits and they are always lots of fun.  This year was no exception.  In fact,  we enjoyed it immensely, even more so because it was held this year at  Tower Hill House,  a gorgeous historic waterfront estate home which is listed for sale by Blue Heron Realty Co. ( see post of June 15th ).  In case anyone ever questioned it,  the Benefit proved Tower Hill house is a superb home for entertaining.  A huge  white tent on the back lawn,  a small tent for the band,  a bar and appetizer tent near the back porch,  various food serving stations down near the waterfront,  over 300 guests plus catering staff and still plenty of room for more — now that’s a Chesapeake Bay area home  I call truly perfect for  entertaining !

A Balmy Summer’s Evening, Perfect For The Benefit At Tower Hill House

Guests were greeted near the front steps with a glass of champagne and tickets for drinks at the bar,  then it was onward through the entry foyer and out to the long, velvety back lawn,  beautifully dressed for the occasion with  masses of colorful Stelladora and Coreopsis lilies outlining the long, elegant walkway from the house to  the dock.  We were running somewhat  late, no surprise there,  and arrived at the appetizer tent just as the caterer was beginning to clear away but did manage to spear some of the last of the mini crabcakes  and a bit of curried chicken salad– both were delicious.  Eldest daughter, who didn’t run late,  informed us somewhat smugly that  had we been a little less late we could have tried the tuna tartre and the shrimp cocktail as well as some heavenly stuffed puff pastries.  Ah well….

Salad Station and Roasted Pork Station Just Beginning Service

Catering this year was by Johnny Mo, well known here on the Eastern Shore as the “Singing Chef” and proprietor of Mallard’s Restaurant located on the Wharf in Onancock, VA.  ( See our spring post of Johnny at Holly Grove Vineyard. )  A talented chef with an eye for presentation and doing things with an interesting twist, Johnny was surely a great choice for this event.  After finding our table under the tent and stowing purses, etc., we wondered out to the waterfront area where food stations were set up and little lines beginning to form, smiling people having a great time on a balmy spring evening,  waving to friends, lots of happy chatter.  We started out at the Salad Station,  chopped romaine and other salad greens dressed lightly with a tropical vinaigrette and tossed with tidbits of  Mandarin oranges and mango.  I took our salad plates back to the table while my husband stood in line at the  Eastern Shore Seafood Boil Station where a savory  mixture of shrimp, mussels, corn and tiny new potatoes in an aromatic seafood broth was being ladled into bowls,  served with  slices  of crusty French bread for dipping into the delicious broth,  all so very yummy.   I confess– I immediately plotted to later go for a second helping  !   Back at the tent,  others at our table were happily sampling the roasted pork tenderloin with red pepper-raspberry glaze served on mini rolls, which I decided  to try as well….. but only after another helping of  the Seafood Boil.   But the really popular item of the evening was the Pasta Station where you could order penne pasta dressed before your eyes with your choice of pesto, alfredo or marinara  sauce, served with or without slices of  chicken breast which had been grilled to perfection.  I went for the alfredo, my husband for the marinara — we both agreed the sauces were luscious.  As it happened, we were in line just ahead of William Neil, the musical director for the Palace Theatre,  and chatted  a bit about his upcoming gig with Lynn Summerall and the Hotel Paradise Rooftop Garden Orchestra  on July 10th at the Jewish Mother restaurant in Virginia Beach.  A bit of a co-incidence since we had attended the band’s  May 8th performance there and really had enjoyed it immensely. 

Bidding Begins At The Silent Auction

Back under the tent,  dessert trays were being passed,  beautiful fruit kabobs of watermelon, honeydew and pineapple chunks,  deep red juicy strawberries dipped in chocolate or my personal favorite,  a delicate chocolate mousse made with Godiva chocolate.  Who could ask for anything better ?  Meanwhile,  inside the house  the  spacious formal living room was becoming a beehive of activity,  the Silent Auction would soon be going strong,  bidders circling around the room,  increasing their offers,  all bids to be in by 9;30 pm, winners to be announced the following day.  Each year generous local businesses and artists contribute a wide variety of  items to be sold at the auction as part of the fundraising.  This year over 100 entities contributed a myriad of items,  a huge variety of goods,  services and artwork ranging from a day at the spa to  a beautiful original watercolor by Clelia Sheppard,  to the  worthy cause of  supporting Art’s Enter’s efforts to enrich lives on the Eastern Shore through the arts.


Because of an early appointment the next day,  we left shortly after Art’s Enter’s School of Dance performed a selection from Hansel & Gretel  entitled “Fire Dance”.   The band was just getting  going again, the stars were shining brightly,  a balmy summer’s evening,  perfect  for dancing cheek to cheek.  Chalk up another great Benefit By The Bay !

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

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