A new ‘Flavor’

Heritage Center annual gala is set for May 17

Ask Lil Tiebout the secret to the success of the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center Guild 2008 Heritage Happening dinner and auction and she’s says “teamwork.”

“Everybody does their job. It’s team work,” the Guild vice president said as about 20 guild members and volunteers gathered at the Heritage Center in Townsend.

The group of volunteers was addressing and stuffing envelops with invitations to the annual gala fundraiser and auction and talking about the May 17 event. Tiebout was particularly excited about one of the auction items.

“One of our auction items is a flight in a World War II T-28,” she said. For the past three years a pilot annually flies a different plane in from South Bend, Ind., for the benefit. “He has no ties here, but he’s our friend,” she said of Najeeb Khan, the plane’s pilot.

Another auction item Guild members were chatting about was the naming rights for a street in a Blount County subdivision. Many other items, large and small, will be auctioned at the event. Tiebout said the Guild is indebted to the donors. “Without items from people we solicit donations from, there would be no auction,” she said. “The people of East Tennessee are very, very generous. It goes to a good cause.”

The “cause” is at the heart of the work the volunteers and Guild members put into this event and every day at the Heritage Center, said Diane Wear Headrick.

Headrick said it is so rewarding to see what is happening at the Heritage Center. “I remember when we sat in Suite 16 of Wears Motel and dreamed of this place. And now it is a reality,” she said.

Headrick said all the money raised (at the dinner and auction) goes to the educational programs and exhibits for the center. “The history of this area is so rich, we do what we do so that this history is passed on to our children and our visitors,” she said.

The Guild has 21 members. “There is no way we could do what we do for this event without the great support we get from community volunteers. The night of the event, it is all put together in a four-hour period, and then we have to put the center back together to be open the next morning,” she said.

Bob Patterson, executive director of the center, said the money the Guild raises helps pay for expenses such as field trips to the facility for school children, labeling exhibits and in constructing the outbuildings on the property.

“We’ve put electricity in all the buildings, and we’ve got track lighting in most of them with three to go,” he said. “We’ll now be able to do evening activities.”

The annual event is named after something special that will be unveiled this year. The gala is called “Flavors of Our Heritage 2008 Heritage Happening Dinner and Auction.” Flavors of Our Heritage is also the name of the Guild’s new cookbook that will be unveiled at the fundraiser. After the fundraiser, the cookbook will be on sale in the gift shop.

“Flavors of our Heritage” 2008 Heritage Happening Dinner and Auction will be Saturday, May 17. Cost for the evening is $100 per person with $65 of the ticket price being tax-deductible. Seating is limited and will be filled as received. To preview auction items on the web, go to www.gsmheritagecenter.org. For ticket information, call 865-448-0044.

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