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Gala Feb. 7 an Oscar winner

"An Evening at the Oscars" is an opportunity to put on some swanky clothes, walk the red carpet and get ready to collect at least one Oscar to take home from the star-studded event.

You're the star at the Arts Center's gala Feb. 7 and the staff is gearing up for it.

"I've ordered the Oscars and they'll be awarded throughout the night," said Bonnie Tressler of the Arts Center staff.

It's sure to be a fun-filled night, said Arts Center Director Taylor Barnes, with valet and limo parking to protect those swanky clothes and skinny high heels. The gala begins at 6 p.m. with a social, which will be followed by an Oscar-worthy catered dinner at 7 p.m.

Unlike the real Oscar ceremony, the gala offers the chance to swing and sway. Dancing to the 42nd Street Jazz Band starts at 9 p.m. Barnes said the band was highly recommended by other musicians in the Fargo area, who told her "they're a fun, danceable band." The dancing could also just be the way to win an Oscar.

"It will be a fun evening of entertainment -- a sure way to break away from winter woes," Barnes said.

The gala is being held in the Arts Center's gallery, decorated in gold, silver and black to highlight "An Evening at the Oscars." Tressler said the centerpieces will be large gold stars, top hats and Oscars in keeping with the theme. Twinkling lights on the ceiling as well as the centerpieces will remind gala goers they are the stars of the evening.

The live auction is short -- only 10 or 11 items, so gala goers can enjoy the party and the dancing. All the live and silent auction items are named after movies. "A Walk in the Clouds" provides a wine and cheese tasting for 30. "Dirty Dancing" offers dance lessons and a case of champagne for 12 friends. "The King and I" is a golf package at King's Walk in Grand Forks. "Platoon" gives eight friends the chance to play in a paint ball game.

Silent auction items offer "Animal House," a TGIF party with a gourmet selection of appetizers for 15 at Babbs. "African Queen" is a pontoon party with Captain Fran Romsdal and "The Lost Weekend" is a weekend at Lakeside Resort with "houseboys" Harvey Huber and Casey Stoudt serving a gourmet dinner. And the list goes on.

While the evening is fun-filled, the annual fundraiser serves a serious purpose. The $60 per person ticket price helps cover the operating costs of the Arts Center.

"You can get grants, but you have to keep the lights on to do the programming offered by the Arts Center," Barnes said. "This is the fundraiser that makes our quality programming possible."

To reserve tickets, call the Arts Center at 251-2496. Plus tickets, there are special treats for those who sponsor a table at $800. The gala is open to everyone, not just Arts Center members.

"Just because you didn't get an invitation, doesn't mean you're not invited," Barnes said. "It's always a lot of fun and this year the gala promises to be an Oscar winner."

Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at