The 17th annual Harvestfest gala put on by ARTS For Rural Texas resulted in record breaking fundraising for the nonprofit, which provides free art after school programs and fine art assemblies in seven communities in Fayette County and serves more than 5,000 children. 

The “Be a Part of the Magic” themed event — created by co-chairs Alisa Rowe and Linda Hudson — featured a fully draped ceiling strung with twinkling white lights and tables set with flower-filled top hats, white gloves, playing cards and wands. Around 240 guests enjoyed a feast catered by local favorite, Celebrations of La Grange.

Bidding action: auctioneer Lee Fristch puts a spell on the bidders. (All photos courtesy of ARTS for Rural Texas.)

The fundraising portion of the night included both silent and live auctions. According to a release from ARTS, attendees rushed to pen their bids for items including a Dickens Christmas Dinner, a Bubbles and Brushes painting party, dinner for 14 at Tex6 Ranch, a spot at the Sweetheart Serenade at Joe’s in Fayetteville, and a gourmet cooking class at La Petite Gourmet in La Grange.

For the live auction, participants bid on several pieces of original fine art. Three pieces of artwork alone brought in more than $22,000 for the organization. These included William Anzalone’s painting Red Bounce, Ken Muenzenmayer’s painting Brindle and Karen Vernon’s Texas White Poppy Thistle.  

Artist William Anzalone’s Red Bounce took in the highest bid during the live art auction.

Other live auction items included a stay at Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, an incredible week-long summer escape in Vail Valley, Colorado and golfing and lunch in The Big Easy. Several dining experiences at some of the best restaurants in central and south-east Texas were also on offer. Locally, Joan and Jerry Herring of Red and White Gallery donated two movie nights at their gallery. 

Caught up in the evening’s magic, auctioneer Lee Fritsch offered up emcee Wayne Penello’s hat, which was sold in a flurry of delighted bidding. The audience also called for the children’s art on display at the event to be a part of the auction, and many attendees took home beautiful student artwork. The night ended with a raffle drawing of a beautiful Lanell Arndt original oil painting, won by Fred Roberts.

Children’s art on display at the ARTS gallery in Fayetteville.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will support the cultural and educational programs offered by ARTS. Included in these programs are the free Art After School program, Fine Art Assemblies and Summer Art Camp. ARTS also provides programs for adults including the Spectrum Lecture Series, art classes and workshops, performances and exhibitions at the Fayetteville campus and the newly opened ARTS gallery at the Old Stanzel and campus in Schulenburg. Visit to learn more.