Music and more for a good cause

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

On Saturday, June 6 the Grange mansion on Kentucky 55 will provide the backdrop for the Campbellsburg Women’s Club Southern Picnic and Auction. The pastoral grounds hosted the event once before in May 2006 drawing more than 80 people and raising several thousand dollars for the good work these ladies do in the community.

“It really was fun,” Pepper McKee said.

This year the club hopes to do even better while still keeping the costs to attend low.

Guests will pay $15 apiece for a homemade box lunch prepared by club members and served with a choice of wine or bottomless “porch sippin’ tea.”

“We’ve kept the luncheon reasonable,” Delores Gatewood said. “We’re a small group and it takes a lot of work, but we enjoy it.”

Tables will be decked out in checkered cloths and lunch served by a waitstaff comprised of members’ sons and husbands. “Usually it’s a lovely afternoon under a tent,” Delores Gatewood said.

“It’s kind of a ladies’ thing,” Donna Gatewood said, “but men enjoy it, too.”

Musical entertainment will be provided by club member Ilse Powell and her family while people mingle before the picnic. An opera singer, Powell will perform bluegrass tunes with husband Loren, and daughters Lorena and Louisa.

The volunteer auctioneer is Pepper McKee’s husband, Jim McKee. “Jim is very witty and funny,” Ann Marie Scott said.

McKee related a story about Jim trying to drive up bids on a piece of member Malissa Beatty’s artwork. “He said ‘this artist has been in the Louvre,’” she said.

“I have been in the Louvre,” Beatty said, “but my artwork hasn’t. Maybe next time I’ll carry a small piece in my pocket.”

Though a complete list of items to be auctioned was not available, members offered a sneak preview.

Beatty showed the group a pair of tall stoneware vases in earthen hues. McKee modeled a sterling silver ring with a tribal design. Donna Gatewood will donate shawls brought back from a trip to India. Nancy Young will offer some of her own handmade crocheted items.

The group projected they will end up with more than 100 items to sell at the live auction.

Other expected items are antiques, collectibles, framed artwork, garden art and gift baskets. “They can get very unusual or old things - collectibles,” Scott said.

Proceeds from the Southern Picnic and Auction are used to fund two scholarships awarded annually to deserving high school seniors in Henry County.

“Everything we bring in we give back,” Delores Gatewood said. “All these women are involved in community work.”

All members of the club in attendance at a recent meeting spoke with enthusiasm for the club’s work, and though this year’s two scholarship recipients were decided at Saturday’s meeting, those names remain a secret.

Campbellsburg Women’s Club members said they are proud of its illustrious past, and focused on its future.

“We have a group of people who ‘do’,” McKee said. Teachers, artists, jewelry makers, farmers and homemakers were mentioned by members speaking around the room.

“We even have a licensed funeral director,” Joanne Rucker said, looking at Betty Ransdell.

Delores Gatewood said the club really wants to add to its number.

“We’d like to bring attention to the fact that we are in the county,” she said, “and have young women and older women join.”

According to a written history, the Campbellsburg Women’s Club was founded in 1906 by Mrs. J.T. Jefferies. Its first president was Mrs. Noble Bumston. “So many members were just pillars of Campbellsburg,” Rucker said.

The club is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

The GFWC traces its roots to 1868 when a female journalist named Jane Croly was denied admittance to an all-male press club honoring Charles Dickens. In response she formed a club for women.

The GFWC’s list of civic accomplishments is extensive, but clubs may be best known for contributions to public libraries. According to its Web site, by the 1930s, federated clubs had founded more than 474 free public libraries and 4,655 traveling libraries. They were credited by the American Library Association with establishing 75 percent of America’s public libraries. “This is the club that started libraries,” club president Darlene Taylor said.

Taylor said the Campbellsburg Women’s Club has been involved in the improvement of many aspects of Henry County life, but members seem especially gratified by their work with local libraries. They established a town library in Campbellsburg in 1908, which sadly was destroyed by fire just a few years later. More recently the club donated books to the Henry County Public Library.

Members also become mentors in local schools, provide for families in need at Christmas time, and get involved in a myriad of other community activities.

The Campbellsburg Women’s Club Southern Picnic and Auction will be held Saturday, June 6. There will be a reception at noon followed by a picnic lunch at 12:30 p.m. The live auction will take place at 1:15 p.m. The cost is $15 per person. For more information, call Delores Gatewood at (502) 802-4743.


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