Sweet solstice supper is gentle slide into summer

From left, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, her husband Ben Barton, Moody Altamimi, Sheryl Linck and Garry Conklin at the Summer Solstice dinner.

“Why go to Stonehenge when you can experience the Solstice amid the old stones at the Botanical Gardens?” the invitation queried.

“Why, indeed?” we asked ourselves. One other instruction on the invite: As part of the fun, we encourage guests to wear white!

With that, we were in!

Rick Fox, left, and Ralph Cianelli at the Botanical Gardens’ Summer Solstice event.

Rick Fox, the outgoing president of the board of directors of the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, and his partner, Ralph Cianelli, personally picked every person on the guest list. And the event was a sellout in no time! We wondered why we knew — and liked! — almost everyone there earlier this month.

It also helped that we had weather beautiful enough to allow the cocktail hour to take place outside, even though an abundance of caution moved the dinner itself inside to the glass-enclosed Dogwood Center.

Another appeal of this fundraising event: only a short, short welcome and no silent or live auctions. The evening was just laid-back fun. The Botanical Garden is one of several Knoxville nonprofits who are losing their executive directors to retirement in the near future. In this case, the affable Jim Richards, who has done an outstanding job at the Garden, is working out his notice while the board searches for his replacement. His will be big shoes to fill.

From left, Alex and Angie Riedl with Jim and Carol Richards. Jim is retiring as the Gardens’ executive director later this year.

Former Knoxville Mayor and U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe with his wife, Joan, right, and Katharine Pearson Criss. Both women are on the board of directors of the Knoxville Botanical Garden.

Sheryl Ely is on the board of directors of the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum.

The music was perfect.

From left, Marga McBride, Sylvia Peters and Elizabeth Offringa.

From left, Knoxville City Council Member Janet Testerman, her husband Joey Creswell, and Judith and Michael Foltz.

Jeff Arbital, left, with Saeed and Brandi Rahmanian.

Sande MacMorran and Elizabeth Offringa.

Ralph Cianelli with board member Susan Kiss. (I could have kissed them both when I saw them holding my favorite pinot grigio!)

From left, David Brace, Margie Nichols, John Gill, Sheryl Ely and Gina Brace. Margie is on the board.

From left, Gay Lyons, Madge Cleveland, Jenny Hines and Scott Bishop.

Jenny Kitts.

From left, David Butler, Dino Cartwright and Mitchell Moseley.

From left, Colin Borck, Susan French, Moody Altamimi, and John Arter.

Kim Cunningham with Cliff Hawks, left, and Michael Foltz.

From left, Deanene and Tom Catani with Marga and Jay McBride.

From left, Aaron White, Mark Hill and board member Victoria Daniel-Cape.

Alan Carmichael, left, and David Williamson.

From left, Tyler Janow, Anthony Wilson, Mayor Indya Kincannon and her husband, Ben Barton. (Also known as “First Dude!”)

From left, Steve Drevik, Lee Ann Rogers and Terri Swaggerty.

From left, Maureen Dunn and Neil McBride with Tom and Anna Ford. Maureen is vice president of the board of directors.

Mary Morris.

Jackie Wilson, left, and Linda Haynes.

From left, Jacque Hawks, Judith Foltz, Theresa Stone and Martha Breazeale. Jacque is on the board.

Reinhold and Karen Mann, left, with Maureen Dunn McBride.

Mother-daughter Gay and Liz Lyons. Liz works for “VIP Knoxville” and was there on assignment.

Jane Venable with Cliff Hawks, left, and Michael Foltz.

Soon, it was time for our lovely outdoor mingling to end and we moved inside.

I took this as a good sign!

Susan Arbital looked lovely in front of the set tables.

I’m really starting to love sitting at long tables. You get to talk to so many people!

Johnnie Creel.

Rick Fox delivered a very short welcome message.

Current Board President Matt Keaney, center, with Cliff and Jacque Hawks.

Board member Joan Ashe looked beautiful with the flowers.

Diane and Jack Humphreys-Barlow.

I thought the salad course was the best.

Here’s the rest: roasted potatoes, fried chicken and blueberry cake.

Fun times.

Dinner conversations.

The noise level indicated folks were having a good time!

A lovely evening.



Filed under: Food, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sweet solstice supper is gentle slide into summer

  1. Gay Lyons, on June 28th, 2023 at 12:14 pm said:

    Rick and Ralph sure know how to put together a guest list. What a fun evening! I hope this will be an annual event.

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on July 22nd, 2023 at 4:25 pm said:

    Gay: That would be nice!

Leave a Reply