At The Voice-Tribune, our trusted photographers are the eyes into the windows of the best parties. Thank you to Kathryn Harrington, Tim Valentino, Bill Wine, Chelsea Marrin and Max Sharp for capturing some of our favorite moments this year.
Best Party Of The Year
It’s no secret that Speed Art Museum excels at throwing parties and throws one of the most creative fetes every fall, each year capitalizing on an artistic and original theme. This year’s Bacchanal took the extravaganza to new heights and earned our Best Party of the Year distinction. You can score an invite to next year’s soiree by joining the Patron Circle.
The winter gala benefiting Norton Children’s Hospital wins this superlative for its ornamentation and attention to detail. The premiere winter party’s tasteful holiday decor not only made for the perfect photo opportunities but allowed guests to feel as if they were in a winter wonderland. The black-tie event was the perfect way to kick off the holiday season while supporting the admirable work Norton does for premature and critically ill newborns.
Best Ladies Night
WINE WOMEN & SHOES
If the wine and the shoes weren’t enough to entice you to grab your girls and head to the Henry Clay, this year’s show stopping “Magic Mike”-style dance performance by the “Shoe Guys” should certainly do the trick. The fashion show, benefiting Family Scholar House, is always an exceptional time and a great excuse to go shoe shopping.
Best Outdoor Event
Bourbon & Bowties
Bring together the top chefs in Derby City with guests decked out in their finest summer fashions and you have the perfect outdoor party. The annual fundraiser for Norton Children’s Hospital took place at Corbett’s Fine Dining, which unfortunately closed its doors in late 2017.
Best Year-long Party
This preeminent Derby Eve Gala earns our nod for best year-long party because, while the evening itself is indeed an unforgettable affair, it is the committee “family” led by Tammy York-Day and Tonya York Dees that keeps the spirit of the party going 365, and the reason celebs return year after year. In fact, the crew headed to Los Angeles on January 4 to kick off this year’s party!
Field and Fork
Is there a better way to spend a late summer evening than soaking up the night sky at the gorgeous Parklands of Floyds Fork? This fundraiser at the park’s Brown-Forman Silo Center had everything: dinner and cocktails, dancing in the barn and stargazing by the fire pits.
Most Anticipated Party
The Power of One
Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence returned to her hometown this summer for a fundraiser for the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation at the Frazier History Museum. Major buzz about the event began in the months leading up to it when it was announced that the star herself would be appearing at the gala. Along with dinner and dancing, guests had the opportunity to explore the fascinating world of “The Hunger Games: The Exhibition.”
LET’S DANCE LOUISVILLE
The competition to raise the most funds for Sandefur Dining Hall is just as intense as the dance contest at this annual charity event. Participants spend months raising money and countless hours training with professional dance partners. The weeks leading up to this year’s Let’s Dance Louisville saw contestants Taunya Eshenbaugh and Andre Wilson in a hilarious social media “feud,” bringing awareness to the cause and adding fuel to fire of their competitive spirits.
You can expect thunderous applause and ovation when the parade of lobster carrying all-you-can-eat lobster circle the ball room. Leave it to Actors Theatre of Louisville to be perfectly dramatic about the dinner delivery. Don’t fret – there are instructions at each seat…and bibs…and wet wipes. And if seafood isn’t your thing, there are plenty of delicious options.
Best Fashion show (TIE!)
Style Icon Derby Fashion Experience
Louisville’s “Style Icon” Andre Wilson produced an immersive Derby Fashion Experience this year that nabbed a Best Fashion Show nod for its inclusivity. The interactive show proved to be an “experience” indeed with dramatic performances and impeccable style.
FALL INTO Fabulous
The Younger Woman’s Club of Louisville executed one of our favorite fashion shows of the year utilizing looks from ten local boutiques. Members of YWC along with candidates for Most Fashionable Philanthropist took to the runway at The Henry Clay to show off fall’s hottest looks.
Best RED CARPET
There is a very good reason why people line up for hours outside the Highlands home of Priscilla Barnstable-Brown on Derby Eve just to get a glimpse of the arriving celebrities of the red carpet – you never know what authentically unrehearsed tabloid-worthy antics you might witness. It’s like the Grammys meets the Emmys meets the ESPY Awards all in a local front yard.
Best WAY TO DO THURBY
CELEBRITY DAY AT THE DOWNS
Thurby is now a Louisville holiday and our favorite way to celebrate is by walking the red carpet with all of the celebrities on Millionaires Row at Churchill Downs. This KDF event is a glamorous opportunity to get up close and personal with the stars before they shine down Broadway in the Pegasus Parade.
Best DANCE PARTY
Guests shed their masks and their shoes to hit the dance floor after a heartfelt ceremony and fundraising efforts for metastatic breast cancer. Thanks to Louisville band Kudmani, the tone of the evening became an incredible celebration of life. We didn’t see another dance floor so hyped for the rest of the year.
Best PARTY FROM A PARTY
MARCH OF DIMES NICU PARTY
At this year’s Signature Chefs Auction, guests were given the opportunity to sponsor a party for families in a local NICU. Thanks to the generosity of the winning bidder Bruce Nethery and Texas Road House who supplied the food, families in the NICU at Norton Children’s Hospital were treated to some holiday cheer.
Best BLACK-TIE EVENT
DERBY MUSEUM GALA
The unmatched elegance of the Kentucky Derby Museum Gala sustains the evening’s distinction as best black-tie event, as it has proven over 31 years. With cocktails beginning in The Mansion of Churchill Downs, guests were then escorted by trolley to the iconic museum to enjoy dinner and dancing.
Best Lunch event
BUTTERFLIES IN MOTION
The table hosts for this luncheon are all the way in when it comes to a little creative competition. Each tasked with designing a tablescape to illustrate a movie, the Heuser Hearing & Language Academy supporters also encourage their guests to dress in theme. It is the most fun and over-the-top way to spend a lunch hour (or three).
Best CASUAL PARTY
TRIBUTE TO TROOPS
It is the opposite of a black-tie event but astronomically more fun. Almost 900 people gathered at Titan Marine in Prospect for a laid-back evening of delicious food and delightful live entertainment. The highlight of the evening benefiting Warrior Empowerment Foundation is when the cavalcade of military veterans and active duty troops were given the gracious and enthusiastic heroes welcome they deserved.
Best DRESS CODE
Encouraged to wear “shades of white,” guests’ wardrobe interpretation of the suggestion is sometimes as creative as the artistic designs that walk the runway throughout the evening. The event attracts the fashionable art community and the party is always a great place to see, be seen and support the triumph of singular art in the community.
Best PIGMENT PARTY
Pink is not just the color synonymous with breast cancer causes; it’s the color of love, which we felt a lot of at this party presented by J. Wagner Group. Breast cancer survivors and supporters partied hard while sporting prom attire and celebrating survivorship and hope.
Most Glamorous Party
The Speed Gala never disappoints when it comes to glamor, and this year’s affair promises more than ever as it rebrands back to The Speed Ball featuring a multicourse dinner in the breathtaking halls of the museum. We’re told the committee is poised to announce a national performing act as entertainment thanks to the involvement of Louisville-born record producer John Alagia.
Misters for MS – Best Auction
This auction for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society was a big hit, featuring live and silent auctions as well as a liquor pull. Though the bachelors themselves weren’t auctioned off, the gentlemen spent the evening enticing guests to bid on items and strutting their stuff. We can’t wait to experience this flirtatious fundraiser again next year.
Jane Austen Festival Grand Ball – Best Theme Party
Our fear of missing out (FOMO) was so intense after seeing these party photos that we nearly had a conniption. As part of the ninth annual Jane Austen Festival (which happens to be the largest Jane Austen event in North America), this elegant ball allowed guests to sport their most formal Austin-inspired attire while doing traditional dances.
An Evening of Jazz – Best Tribute Event
For 22 years, jazz fans have gathered annually for this lively reception and concert. The 2017 iteration at KCD Theater saw the Ansyn Banks Quintet perform a tribute to singer, composer and trumpet player Kenny Dorham. Dorham was an incredibly talented musician who passed away from kidney disease before he was able to receive the recognition and critical acclaim he deserved.
Colors of Courage – Most Moving Party
The united commitment to a cause was never more apparent than when the emotional crowd at Bowman Field far exceeded the fundraising goal in record time. The money raised will help Hope Scarves share scarves and stories of hope for people facing cancer as well as fund vital metastatic breast cancer research.
Boo La La – Best Costume Party
The Gillespie hosted this spooktacular Halloween party to benefit the Olmsted Parks Conservancy. People bring their costume A-game to this event, so it is an absolute delight for us to browse through their over-the-top outfits after the fact. From TV and pop culture references, classically scary looks and everything in between, no one does it halfway at Boo La La.
Time Travelers Social – Best Invitation
When a mysterious note designed as an aged telegram appears in your mailbox, your curiosity is piqued. Those on the receiving end of the invitation were the who’s who of Louisville influencers and the elegant evening was a smashing Prohibition-style success.
Candle Glow Gala – Best Lounge
What’s black, white and cool as can be? The Glow Lounge at Hosparus Health’s signature fundraiser, of course. The black and white affair’s after-party lounge made the evening a winner with a premium open bar and live music from the Impalas.
Greek Glendi – Best Cultural Immersion
Everyone who attended this annual event at The Olmsted left feeling like family whether they were of Greek descent or just a welcomed guest. The baklava was fabulous, and the traditional dancing was phenomenal. It was festive and fun event where all were welcomed.
Margaritas in the Ville – Best Boozie Party
Sampling the best margaritas in the city while watching the sun set on the Ohio River is definitely our idea of a good time. Plus, we have to hand it to our comrades at the LEO – they know how to throw down.
Humana Festival Encore Bash – Most Prestigious Party
The entire Humana Festival of New American Plays is like a giant and dramatic weeks-long party thrown by our friends at Actors Theatre. The series of soirees that rejoice this extremely prestigious celebration of American theater welcome folks from all over the world. Particularly festive this year was the Encore Bash that closed out the theater’s 41st Humana Festival season.
Hunt Ball – Best Traditional Party
Held at the stately Pendennis Club, there is something about the dapper scarlet riding frocks worn by the members of Long Run Hounds, a “no-kill” hunt club, that harkens back to a more elegant time.
Oscar Watch Party – Best Party for Cinephiles
The 2017 Academy Awards were particularly eventful given that the statue for Best Picture was nearly handed off to the wrong film. A large group of Louisvillians witnessed the intense moment together at the Louisville Film Society’s watch party at the Gillespie. Local cinephiles walked the slightly smaller red carpet, participated in a ballot competition and consumed Hollywood-inspired cocktails.
Benefit Bash – Cutest guests
Animal lovers and supporters of Animal Care Society had the opportunity to pet, nuzzle and cuddle with the most adorable adoptable pets imaginable. FYI, canines make the ideal dance floor companion even if they move like they have four left feet.
Sing for the Roses – Most Dramatic
Pandora Productions knows how to handle a dramatic crowd, and they did so expertly when they invited some of the most vocally accomplished actors in the city to perform musical numbers of their choice for a crowd that voted for their favorites with cash.
Night of a thousand Laughs – Funniest Party
Inviting recognizable locals to cut their teeth as comedians is a genius way to entertain a crowd. Even if the jokes don’t land, an evening spent supporting Gilda’s Club of Louisville is always grand.
Giving Tree Gala – Best Inaugural Event
We love discovering new causes and parties to cover, and this gala debuted by the Olive Branch Foundation at the newly reopened Marcus Lindsey made the top of our list for best new event. The nonprofit’s unbelievable bash benefited their work as they raise funds for domestic adoption awareness and support.
Speed After Hours – Best Recurring Party
The good times get to keep on rolling as the Speed Art Museum hosts this party on the third Friday of every month. We loved getting to experience the museum in a whole new light, or rather, the dark, this past fall. The next After Hours will take place on January 19 starting at 5 p.m.
Give for Good Rally – Best Fundraiser
The Community Foundation of Louisville continually goes above and beyond to raise funds not just in our city but throughout the Commonwealth. Their rally in September at Fourth Street Live! had such an enjoyable and energetic atmosphere, it’s no wonder the organization raised over $4.6 million in just 24 hours.
Olio Event Group – Best Launch Party
When a bona fide and nationally celebrated event planner throws their own party, you know you are going to get the best of everything. Lauren Chitwood did just that with the launch of Olio Event Group. Superior entertainment, food and drinks were enjoyed by all who stopped by to experience the exquisitely renovated space on Goss Avenue.
Bell Awards – Best Awards
The volunteers in our community who spend their free time giving back don’t go unnoticed by WLKY’s team. This year’s 40th anniversary ceremony made the celebration all the more inspiring.
CONGRATS TO ALL THE WINNERS!