Knoxville Museum of Art’s ‘Kickoff to Summer’ still holds title of most fun fundraiser in town: Here’s why!

When I asked these fun folks to pose for a photo, they lined up — but not the way people normally do when you make that request! Front to back, Megan Beidler, Sheryl Linck, Garry Conklin and Frank Beidler.

I have always said that the most fun fundraiser of the year is the Knoxville Museum of Art’s Kickoff to Summer party. It was a little late this year, as many events have been, due to COVID cancellations and the associated uncertainties. Summer was pretty much in full swing by the time it happened recently.

But, here’s why it is so much more fun than many other money-raising “opportunities” with which we are presented: there are no speeches; no emotional videos; no silent auction; and no live auction. You simply pay your entry fee — in this case $125 per person — and then it’s non-stop music, a sumptuous buffet of amazing delectables by Holly Hambright, and open bars throughout the night.

“It’s just a fun par-TAY!” exclaimed my friend Dino Cartwright, who knows a bit about such activities.

When I say non-stop music, I’m serious. The fabulous party band, The Atlanta Showstoppers, is made up of so many musicians that they swap out personnel throughout the evening, making it possible for them to perform for three hours straight without taking a break. Consequently, the dance floor doesn’t take a break either!

Read on and see if you don’t agree that it’s not your normal Knoxville fundraiser.

The Atlanta Showstoppers.

From left, Sara Pinnell, Pamela Selby, Blake Trent, Andrew Spatz and Jenny Spatz.

Three lovely — and fun — sisters! From left, Tobertha Jackson, Wokie Massaquoi-Wicks and Denise Musu Hoffman.

A glimpse at a portion of the generous food options. (This was one-half of the table!)

A closeup of some of my favorites. (That shrimp in the top left corner was the best thing on the table — and that’s saying a lot!)

From left, Kay Clayton, Bob Lederer and Nazzy and Hash Hashemian.

From left Isabell Senft-Daniel, Moody Altamimi and Susan French surround William Hodges.

Ken and Leslie Parent.

Due to COVID guidelines, the museum limited attendance to 160, which allowed everyone to spread out — even on the dance floor.

From left, Tommy Siler, Ben Pinnell and Tyler Congleton.

From left, Mark and Deb Richardson, Jay and Marga McBride and Rob and June Heller.

Mary Morris, left, with Elizabeth Swindeman and Jared Akridge.

Lindsay Cates, left, with Carla Paré. (Thanks to these two for helping me with names for the captions!)

Gay Lyons, left, with Joey Creswell and City Council Member Janet Testerman.

Cliff and Jacque Hawks, left, with Judith and Michael Foltz.

Gregory Blankenship and Julie Cox.

Betty Winton, left, and Beverly Sligh.

Alan Carmichael, left, with Margaret and Cliff Rodgers.

Always nice to see young folks at events! That’s Addie Dewhirst, left, and Lydia Heinz.

Diana Warner and Edward Pasto.

From left, Barbara Apking, Dorothy and Caesar Stair III, and Barbara Bernstein.

Beth and Victor Jernigan.

Hash Hashemian posing with caterer extraordinaire Holly Hambright.

John and Delores Sorey.

Karen and Reinhold Mann.

Mitchell Moseley, left, and Dino Cartwright.

Mollie Turner and John Trotter.

Nathan Honeycutt, left, and Brian Wiseman.

From left, Matt Prince, Lindsay Cates and Campbell Dillon.

Wokie Massaquoi-Wicks and Stephen Wicks. He’s the curator at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

When the sun started to set, some folks opted to go outside, even though it still was hot.

The temperature was 91 when this photo was taken. Hardy souls.

From left, Carla Paré, Kay Clayton, David Butler, Barbara Apking and Barbara Bernstein. David is executive director of the Museum of Art.

Now, for the fun part! Watch Greg Blankenship and Julie Cox burning up the dance floor:


And, our friend Dino Cartwright not being subtle at all about what fun he was having dancing with Denise Musu Hoffman:



Filed under: Art, Downtown, Events, Knoxville, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Knoxville Museum of Art’s ‘Kickoff to Summer’ still holds title of most fun fundraiser in town: Here’s why!

  1. Alan Carmichael, on July 1st, 2021 at 3:14 pm said:

    This was one of Holly’s best creations. The duck, wow! And Dino. What can you say? Party starter and finisher.

  2. sara pinnell, on July 1st, 2021 at 3:44 pm said:

    SUCH a FUN time!!! You captured it well!!

  3. Marie Alcorn, on July 1st, 2021 at 5:57 pm said:

    Re the picture: “The temperature was 91 when this photo was taken. Hardy souls” includes daughter our Meg Grunke (blue/white to right) and husband Aaron (middle in suit w/drink & talking). Unfortunately we were out of town and sad to miss this great event.

  4. Gay Lyons, on July 1st, 2021 at 8:32 pm said:

    This is absolutely the most fun party. I love everything about it. The band is amazing. Holly outdid herself with the food. You are right about that shrimp. It was crazy good. This year’s party was even better than usual because you could just feel how happy people were to see each other. May have set record for number of hugs in a 3 hour period.

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on July 1st, 2021 at 11:38 pm said:

    Alan, Sara, Gay: Absolutely agree. One of the best!

    Marie: Thanks for pointing out who they were! My only (extremely minor) complaint about this party is that there weren’t name tags! They can be so helpful to so many people – including me!

  6. Holly Hambright, on July 2nd, 2021 at 5:13 am said:


  7. Martha Weaver, on July 2nd, 2021 at 11:23 pm said:

    How wonderful to see Barbara Apking, Barbara Bernstein, Kay Clayton, and Dorothy and Caesar Stair enjoying the great Par-tay. Thank you, Cynthia, for letting even us currently not in Knoxville enjoy the fun. What a blessing you are to the Knoxville arts and development scene‼️

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