HOT SPRINGS -- Twenty years ago, Blue Moon Art Gallery started an event that sold custom ornaments in a silent auction to benefit a local nonprofit organization.
Tri-Lakes CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, has continued An Ornamental Affair annually, although the covid-19 pandemic put the event on hold for two years, making this the 18th year for the event, set for Dec. 9 at the Hamp Williams Building.
"This event started years ago when Gallery Walk was really brand new and really big downtown with all the galleries," Suzanne Herron, executive director of Tri-Lakes CASA, said.
"It started with Blue Moon Art Gallery, which isn't even there anymore, and we had local artists that created one-of-a-kind ornaments that they donated to us for silent auctions. And we've just continued it over the years."
What started with about 20 artists donating their talents to create custom ornaments for the event has tripled and also includes local celebrities and others. County Judge Darryl Mahoney, state Sens. Alan Clark and Matt McKee, Tom Brannon, and several coaches from the University of Arkansas will all have ornaments.
"We have all of the Razorback coaches -- Sam Pittman, Eric Musselman, Dave Van Horn, Courtney Deifel, she's the women's softball -- and then we have one other unsigned Razorback ornament," Herron said. "And those are all done by an artist by the name of Jennifer Rose. Jennifer also does one that is a John Daly ornament that he signs each year."
All Children's Academy, a local faith-based academy that works with elementary home-school students, will also be providing ornaments and other art pieces, Herron said.
"They will have approximately 60 come in from the school to be added to that," she said, noting that around 200 items will be in the silent auction.
"So we're going to have the largest amount this year that we've ever had, and we're expecting somewhere in the numbers of around 150. Then we will have regular silent auction items and raffles from local businesses that have donated, as well."
Herron said some participating artists are known internationally, having done workshops in other countries.
"Richard Stephens, Gary Simmons, Wayne Summerhill -- those are three right off the top of my head," she said. "They are always big and always bring top dollar for their ornaments."
The annual event raises approximately $15,000 to $20,000 each year for the child advocacy organization, Herron said.
"We will have a raffle this year. Oaklawn has generously donated a weekend, a two-night stay, dinner for two, and box seats package to us that will be raffled," she said. "I will also add we always have Sisters in Service that come and help facilitate the event. We have what we call a cash tree, and it has custom ornaments -- CASA ornaments -- on it that are available for any donation amounts, and the Sisters in Service come and facilitate walking around and managing that tree."
Tickets for the event are $20 each or $200 for a table sponsorship, which includes "table signage" and eight tickets. More information is available at the organization's website, trilakescasa.org.