It was all about the Bluegrass Ball in D.C. on Inauguration eve. The Bourbon Trail reception that welcomed party-goers in to the festivities was warm, relaxed and started off the evening by setting an easy-going atmosphere; the Kentucky Bourbon Producers also supplied spirits for soaking cherries in the desserts. The dinner planned by Louisville’s Proof on Main chef Michael Paley included locally grown and raised Bibb lettuce from Louisville’s Grateful Greens, bison from the Kentucky Bison Company in Goshen, striped bass from Bluefin Seafood in Louisville and country ham from Newsome’s Country Hams in Paducah. The stars were shining brightly for about 1400 Kentuckians and their guests, as Muhammed Ali and wife Lonnie, Ashley Judd, and Phyllis George with daughter Pamela Brown took the stage, and as our elected political figures led some singing.
Behind the scenes, volunteers from the Kentucky Society of Washington had been working with UK College of Agriculture’s floriculture specialist Sharon Bale for two days, creating some magnificient masterpieces and then transporting them to tables for the event. After driving a passenger van packed to the roof with flowers from Lexington to D.C., a crew was waiting to unload, unpack and begin to reorganize into an on-the-fly workshop. The first job was to create over 100 pave balls by lining spheres of Oasis, which is a water-holding florists’ foam, with rosebuds and and mums. The effect was stunning, and in the enormous ballroom of the Wardman Park Marriott, they appeared to be bright spots of color floating above the black tablecloths. Next, tall acrylic towers were topped with curly willow branches illuminated by small, battery-powered lights, and hung with orchids and lilies grown at Sullivan Farms in Rough River which created almost a tropical forest atmosphere overhead. Finally, floral rings were filled with flowers and more tiny lights to glow at table level.
Everything came together beautifully Monday afternoon, and when the Ball began, and dignitaries walked down the sweeping stairway into the darkened hall, they seemed to be walking through a starlit forest. From all the volunteers who worked so hard to pull the event together, you could hear a sigh of relief as My Old Kentucky Home was sung once more.