Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


April 7, 2013

In praise of Kentucky

Paramount’s Spring Gala honors what makes commonwealth unique

ASHLAND — Mark and Mikailyn Estep have special memories of growing up in the Ashland area that center on the Paramount Arts Center.

“Both of us attended youth programs in school at the Paramount,” Mr. Estep said. “It’s neat to go full circle.”

The co-chairmen of the Spring Gala are happy to serve in a fundraising capacity: the gala is the theater’s biggest fundraiser.

The Esteps said they want to celebrate not only the Paramount but Kentucky, so they chose the theme “My Old Kentucky Home” for the gala, scheduled for April 13 at Fannin Automotive Family Dealership.

“We both went to UK and spent time at Keeneland and we love horse racing and the beautiful farmland we want to acknowledge the great state we live in and the rich history of Kentucky,” Mrs. Estep said. “We want to brag on what we have.”

The event will include a tribute to Kentucky distilleries with samplings of bourbon produced along the Bourbon Trail. Decor, which Mrs. Estep describes as “rustic elegance with rich tones but natural,” will include colors associated with the state, including Kentucky blue.

Pre-dinner music will showcase Kentucky composers, including Stephen Foster.

Chef Jason Oesterreicher at the Bellefonte Country Club will prepare dinner; Mrs. Estep describes it as “Southern with a modern flair.” Filet is the main course, as always, but everything from the reception to dessert will feature Kentucky and the South.

Dance music, which will follow dinner, will be provided by The Sensations.

The Esteps, who are the youngest chairmen in gala history, are assisted by Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles and his wife, Jo, the co-chairmen.

The Esteps said they hope to set records this year in terms for fundraising.

“We have new sponsors and new attendees,” Mrs. Estep said.

“We hope attendance is up with a younger generation as attendees,” Mrs. Estep said.

The Paramount contributes about $6 million to the local economy annually and provides arts experiences to more than 100,000 individuals. More than 50,000 students in 139 local schools in 17 counties are exposed to arts programs and more than 20 communities are involved in arts outreach programs through the Paramount.

Admission costs cover 46 percent of the funding needed to operate the theater. The gala and other fundraising efforts raise the remaining 54 percent.

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