Annual Masquerage Benefit Returns To The Montgomery County Fairgrounds.
By Christopher Johnson
It’s that time of year again. Break out your costumes, makeup and masks for the annual Masquerage, which is back and stronger than ever. This annual benefit courtesy of AIDS Resource Center Ohio, slated for Saturday, October 16 in the Roundhouse at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, is not only my “can’t miss event of the month” but Maha Kashani’s as well thanks to her DCP “Miss Maha And The City” column.
Masquerage came about in 2001 after low walker turnout and stormy weather hindered AIDS Foundation Miami Valley’s AIDS Walk. The organization decided to give the walk a much-needed rest. “AIDS Walks across the country have seen a steady decrease in financial support and participation,” explained ARC executive director and CEO Bill Hardy.
The first Masquerage was held in 2002, and since then the event has raised more than $650,000 in unrestricted funds in support of HIV/AIDS advocacy, education, prevention and testing.
Hardy particularly addressed the importance of contributing to this year’s Masquerage considering the current economical climate.
“Statewide, this year has been a crisis year for funding for core medical services and other supportive services for HIV individuals,” he said. “We’ve seen cuts for prevention, treatment and testing in a time when 1,000 new Ohioans are being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year. In July, we learned that the Ohio HIV Drug Assistance Program was in trouble. HIV medications are some of the most expensive on the market. In order to stop a growing deficit, the Ohio Department of Health changed the financial requirement guidelines from 500 percent of poverty level down to 300 percent and began a first-ever waiting list. This is in addition to $1 million cut from the 2011 HIV prevention budget.”
This year’s theme is “A Night of Heavenly Pleasures and Sinful Delights.” ARC special events coordinator Lisa Grigsby offered some insight as to what patrons can expect next Saturday.
“Each year the theme of Masquerage sends us in a different direction,” she said. “Right away this year we know we wanted to involve local artists in the décor, so we recruited 14 local artists and asked each one to create a 12-by-15 foot mural that depicts one of the seven deadly sins or seven heavenly virtues. We’ve gotten some amazing creations and each one is a unique interpretation. Those murals will help create the atmosphere this year.”
Grigsby also added, “Our MC of the event for this year is Fire Island Entertainer of the Year, Porsche, most recently she was the sidekick on The Wanda Sykes Show. Dancers from Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Kira’s Oasis and the Fusion Dance Crew will be intermingled with the always much anticipated performance of The Rubi Girls, aerialists, and shadow dancers. Guests from The Ohio Leather Alliance will (also) add a sensual atmosphere to this year’s party of parties.”
If you love to eat while you party, Masquerage is the place to be.
“In the refreshment area, Chef Matt Hayden is creating a waterfall of chocolate to dip sinful treats into among other goodies,” Grigsby said. “Chef Wiley from Meadowlark’s menu includes: bruschetta; ribeyes on a stick; salami/broccolini on a stick; sliders; angel and devils food bites; and spicy peanut noodles.”
According to Grigsby, Masquerage drew a crowd last year of over 760 and generated $127,000.
“The attendees were up last year, but the dollars were down which was to be expected in our down economy,” she said. “We had a smaller number of Red Ribbon Lounge guests, but more general admission guests in 2009.”
Masquerage 2010 will be held Saturday, October 16 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Roundhouse at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 1043 South Main St. General admission: $50 (includes welcoming cocktail, hors d’oeuvres). VIP/Red Ribbon Lounge: $150 (includes delicacies created by The Meadowlark, valet parking, swag bag and more). An exclusive hotel package is also available for $110 that includes a room at the Dayton Marriott, transportation to and from Masquerage, taxes and a late checkout. In order to receive this special rate, you must book through ARC Ohio online or by phone. For more information, visit online at www.ARCOhio.org
Reach DCP freelance writer Christopher Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org