By Karen Middleton
For The News Courier
The cast and crew of the 21st annual Poke Sallet Follies are about to begin rehearsal.
This year, the public can learn more about the yearly fundraiser — such as dates and times, ticket prices and history — on a new website.
According to this year’s show director, Stacy Givens, the site — pokesalletfollies.org — will soon be up and running for the show, which is set for March 7, 8 and 9. She said a new company, Image In a Box (imageinabox.com) volunteered to build the site and design a logo.
“The short of it is that we felt that the event needed ‘branding,’” Givens said. “As a result, we were able to get a company to volunteer to put together a cohesive marketing plan. It includes a new logo, a website and the program for the event.”
Tickets go on sale from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Feb.18, and each day following from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Athens Senior Center at 912 W. Pryor St. All seats are reserved and must be paid for in advance. The center will accept cash and checks only. Tickets are $35 per person and include a three-course meal.
Early reservations and telephone reservations will not be accepted.
“The website provides the history of the event, contact information, ticket sale information and important dates for the cast members,” Givens said. “The primary benefit is obvious — people can get information easily about the event without having to pick up the phone and call someone. It’s a central place for answers to common questions. It also will help promote the event to those who've never heard of it or never attended.”
This is some of the information included on the new website:
Poke Sallet Follies offers a variety of sponsorship and advertising opportunities for local businesses and events. Short commercials written by volunteers and shown during the event, program ads, website ads and tablescapes are available for purchase. Contact Jennifer Reece at 256-233-6412 for additional information.
The Poke Sallet Follies is a fundraising event hosted by the Foundation for Aging board each spring. This three-night dinner event provides entertainment and comedy while showcasing many local politicians and dignitaries.
Senior centers in Athens and Limestone County provide critical services such as Meals on Wheels and medical insurance counseling to the elderly. The Council on Aging Foundation Board was established by Limestone County citizens to raise money to help support these centers and their services.
Twenty-one years ago Athens residents Tom and Harriette Rost were active members of the Foundation for Aging and saw many unmet needs of the community’s seniors, such as funding for Meals on Wheels.
Prior to the follies, the Council on Aging raised additional funds for services through yard sales and chicken stews. Those events raised at most $1,000 to $2,000. The Rosts approached former COA Director Helen Carter about putting the efforts of her staff and volunteers into a big fundraiser.
The Rosts, Carter, Martha Jo Leonard and the late Mary Thompson devised the follies. Harriette Rost came up with the name because the wild antics in various skits reminded her of the poke weed that, “comes up in the spring and grows wild.”
The first show in 1992 raised about $5,000. Today, the event raises between $18,000 and $20,000 annually. Carter, who performs in the production, said that since its inception, the Poke Sallet Follies have raised $282,000.
That money has gone to provide food for all Meals on Wheels clients, a freezer so that COA can provide frozen dinners to citizens who live in more rural areas that are not serviced by regular Meals on Wheels, outfitting of a commercial grade kitchen, building of a large front handicap-accessible front porch, a new auditorium floor, stage, curtains, sound system and various other repairs and renovations to the Athens Senior Center.