Derby fundraising set

Kara Donatelli, executive director of the Sampson Arts Council, looks over invitations for the Kentucky Derby Party to make sure everything is in place.

The Sampson Arts Council will host a Kentucky Derby party May 2, from 5-8 p.m., as a way to raise funds to help purchase a kiln for the SAC Pottery Barn.

And they’re off! As the 20 thoroughbred horses make their way around the racetrack at Churchill Downs in Kentucky in a early May, the Sampson Arts Council will be hosting a “Hat and Horses” derby party in an effort to raise money to be used for projects being sponsored by the council.

The Kentucky Derby Party will be held May 2, from 5-8 p.m., at the Victor R. Small House.

“This will be the most exciting two minutes in sports,” Kara Donatelli, executive director of the Arts Council said. “The most exciting party of the year.”

According to Donatelli, all proceeds raised during the party will be used to assist in the completion of the Sampson Arts Council pottery barn studio.

“It means a lot to people to know exactly what they are giving to,” Donatelli shared about the fundraising. “This party will allow the public to give to a project that gives back to the community and the arts.”

Derby attire is recommended for the May event. Donatelli shared that the council hopes the ladies will don their hats and the men their bowties for this event. Southern fare, drinks and live Jazz music will be on the agenda for the evening. Music will be provided by the Raleigh Jazz Orchestra Duo. The Derby race will be shown on a big screen TV and guests will be able to pick their favorite horse for their win.

“I think everyone will enjoy dressing up for the evening, coming out to enjoy good food and drinks, mingle among friends and watch the race,” the director said.

Prizes will be awarded for best hat and best dressed couple.

Aside from the fun folks will have, funds for the event will be used for what the Arts Council director calls a very worthwhile project.

According to Donatelli, the making of pottery is one of the most ancient arts; currently there are no pottery studios or facilities in Sampson County where you can take a pottery class and fire clay.

“We don’t need to forget about the art of pottery making,” Donatelli stressed.

The Arts Council, according to Donatelli, has started to renovate the barn located behind the Small House and the proceeds from the derby party will be used to continue in the completion of this project. This structure will be utilized as a pottery studio. Due to the outdated electrical system in the building, Donatelli said the wiring has been upgraded and a room has been added for a kiln.

“We still need to upgrade the plumbing, purchase a kiln, electric pottery wheels, clay and supplies, before classes can be offered,” Donatelli said. “We look forward to offering new art opportunities for Sampson County by providing pottery classes for children and adults.”

Tickets are on sale through the Small House and Arts Council. For members, tickets are $40 and $75 for couples. For those who aren’t a member, but would like to attend, tickets are $45 for individuals and $90 for couples.

To purchase tickets, call 910-596-2533, visit the Small House at 709 College St., or purchase them online at

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