Monique Anderson took very seriously the job of selecting the perfect hat.
How often do you go to a fundraiser that is virtually perfect? I went to one last week. It was the Hats in Bloom luncheon at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum.
Why, you ask, was it perfect? Well, it started at 10:30 a.m. with Bloody Marys and passed appetizers and, most importantly, the first chance to pick out a stunningly beautiful hat by everyone’s favorite milliner, Patricia Frankum. At 11:30, mimosas were served (or, in my case, straight champagne — who wants to waste the calories on orange juice?), followed by a lunch of orzo and cold salmon with little hat-shaped cookies for dessert. Best of all: the briefest of remarks thanking everyone for coming and NO AUCTION! Yay!
Tickets were $65 each for regular admission at 11:30 and $100 for the “Top Hat” admission that got you in early for the best selection of hats and, I think, the most fun — before things got packed. My advice: go for the “Top Hat” tickets.
In Knoxville, it’s not really the normal practice to drink at lunch. But, for a good cause, who can argue?
Here’s the woman of the hour, milliner Patricia Frankum.
Betsey Bush carefully considers a purchase.
Patricia helps Dawn Ford correctly position her chapeau.
The Knoxville Symphony’s Rachel Ford checks out a jaunty number.
Okra is my favorite vegetable. I like it best served this way.
Cindi DeBusk with Jim Richards, executive director of the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
Here are some hat fans from Moxley Carmichael. From left, Erica Beck, Amanda Jennings and Amy Barger.
Moxley Carmichael’s Shaun Fulco Hyver with her new purchase. Perfect match for her outfit.
Ellen Robinson happily threw herself into the selection process. When her sweet husband texted her that she should treat herself to a hat, she responded to him with a photo of the hat she already had purchased! Ha.
Ellen Evancho, left, and Dr. Jan Henley, my excellent dentist.
From left, Sandra Butler, Lynda Speckhart, and Susan Farris enjoying the mingling.
From left, Maureen Dunn McBride, Julia Bentley and Mickey Mallonee.
Jennifer Holder, left, with Kim Henry.
The appetizers, like these stuffed celery sticks, were in the old-fashioned Southern theme. Just like my grandmother used to make.
Cheese straws, of course.
Some of the hats. I thought the hat boxes were as beautiful as the hats.
More hats and hat boxes.
Elizabeth Farr’s harp music was the perfect accompaniment.
From left, Ellen Robinson, Allyn Purvis Schwartz and Moxley Carmichael’s Maria Cornelius.
Maria, a big Prince fan, took a hankering to this hat since Prince’s signature color was purple.
She purchased it and then did the sweetest thing.
She donated it back to the Botanical Garden to put in an auction at this autumn’s Green Thumb Gala. At left is Jackie Wilson, who was chair of the Hats in Bloom committee, and committee member Vicki Williams-Baumgartner.
Monica Travis, left, with Faye Langley.
Jayne Burritt, left, and Kristin Grove.
This touching tribute was set up to the late Andie Ray, a big fan of hats and gardens. That’s her favorite hat on the handlebars.
Andie’s mother, Jane Ray, right, attended with her sister, Sylvia Sproul, left, and her granddaughter, Olivia Ray.
Tom Cervone, left, executive director of Dogwood Arts, was one of the few men in attendance. Here, he’s with three women named Susan. His wife, Susan Creswell, beside him; Susan Farris, second from right; and Susan Arbital.
Olivia Talman helped her father, Jeff Talman, serve mimosas.
Anna Ford, left, and Victoria Cape.
From left, Rachel Ford, Jackie Wilson and Mary Sue Greiner.
Lindsay Cates, left, with Kelli Ryman.
From left, Jacque Hawks, Vicki Williams-Baumgartner and Ellen Adcock.
From left, Gay Lyons, Ellen Capito and Kim Lauth.
Erin Bagwell, left, with her mother, Judith Foltz.
Dr. Michelle Brewer.
Betsey Bush, left, with Sandy Burdick.
Meanwhile, Chef Rex Bradford Jones was filling soup cups.
The adorable hat cookies already were on the table.
The fabulous ladies from the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra were guests at the Moxley Carmichael table. From left, Rachel Dellinger, director of communications; Mary Sue Greiner, director of development; and Executive Director Rachel Ford.
Refreshing chilled cucumber soup was the first course.
Pimento cheese biscuits accompanied. Yum-yum.
Here’s that delicious entree.
Joan Ashe, left, was there with her aunt, Wanda Moody. Joan is the former First Lady of Knoxville and Wanda was a powerful Knox County commissioner. Joan said she had to lend Wanda a hat for the event and Wanda cracked, “Why do you get the nice one, and I get the one that looks like I should be digging turnips in the garden?” Love her.