What: Equest After Dark Gala
Where: Bomb Factory
The 411: More than 500 guests donned dapper suits and fancy frocks and headed to Deep Ellum’s historic Bomb Factory for Equest's Great Gatsby-themed After Dark Gala. Honorary co-chairs Sue and Ben Casey and co-chairs Susan and Jon Farrier worked together with The Brand Divas to plan a high-energy, speakeasy-inspired party that celebrated Equest’s 37 years of changing lives for people in need through human-horse connections.
Women in sequins, fringe, and beads and men in bowler hats, pinstripe three-piece suits, and oxford shoes were greeted to the jazzy 1920s tunes of the Texas Gypsies swing band, hors d’oeuvres, and the signature Blue Pony cocktail featuring Skyy Vodka. Among the VIP guests were Equest CEO Lili Kellogg, Equest co-founder and board member Susan Schwartz, and city councilmen Rick Callahan and Kevin Felder.
Attendees bid on rows of silent auction items including jewelry, handbags, art, and unique Dallas experiences. And they tried their luck at a hidden gaming parlor. Equest Mini Ambassadors Cisco and Dare, two miniature horses under 36 inches tall, even wore their finest feather headpieces for photos with guests.
Following the cocktail reception, guests enjoyed a three-course dinner created by Farm to Market Catering and a performance by the Arthur Murray Dance Studio dancers. TV personality Jocelyn White emceed, leading the program with the help of several Equest clients who gave emotional testimonies about what Equest meant to them.
Auctioneer Wes Pool took the stage to raise money for horse sponsorships, and patrons really ponied up. Within minutes, five sponsorships were donated at the $5,000 level, ensuring food and care for one year for five therapy horses. Then, more than 60 guests raised their paddles to donate at various levels — from $2,500 to $100.
A live auction featured six spectacular packages, such as a private meet and greet with cast members for a pre-show dinner and Broadway tickets in New York City, a five-course wine dinner for 10 at the home of Chef Kent Rathbun, and an all-inclusive Zulu South Africa photo safari.
Finally, Equest’s first ever gala after-party saw guests gather on the dance floor to move and groove to the sounds of Emerald City Band.
Equest, founded in 1981, provides equine facilitated activities, therapies, and counseling to children and adults with physical, cognitive, sensory, coping and learning disabilities and veterans with adjustment challenges. With the help of 36 therapy horses, 10 instructors, four therapists, two counselors, and 400 volunteers, more than 3,000 clients are served each year.
Who: Lynn McBee, Allan McBee, Tarryn Franco, Natalie Westbrook, Meredith Matthews, Laura Lee Lacy, Stephany Younge, Michelle King, Debi Hensley, Jude Kazmaier, Peter Aldendifer, Elizabeth Blackwell, Missy Cook, JB Cook, LeeAnn Summer, Susannah Denney, Teresa Fishman, Frank Carter, Chrissy Rudd, Leilani Warrick, Dustin Mauck, Katherine Killingsworth, Katie Madsen, and Zach Madsen.