A fun night will help island animals

The famous Pink Panther himself brings un peu de l’esprit de Paris to Whidbey Island for the sake of his fellow feline and canine friends.

The famous Pink Panther himself brings un peu de l’esprit de Paris to Whidbey Island for the sake of his fellow feline and canine friends.

The Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation presents “An Evening in Paris” for its fifth annual “Spring Fling Auction.” The benefit is 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17 at the Crockett Barn, across from the Keystone Ferry Terminal in Coupeville.

Jim Freeman takes on the emcee role of “Inspector Clouseau” during an delightful soiree in the spacious “Barn Bistro.”

A bistro-style set, complete with the Eiffel Tower and all things romantically Parisian, will surround guests for an elegant, four-course dinner prepared by “Island Chef” Tim Goekin.

A menu of French bistro-style cuisine includes, vichyssoise, salad, boeuf bourguignonne, cassoulet, wild forest mushroom crepes, a cheese course and petit four.

Clouseau will lead a full cast of characters to entertain a la French revue in a “Tail of Two Kitties,” featuring the lovely “Chanteuse” played by Gale DuBrow, the “Pawparazzi,” a couple of unstoppable Can Can dancers and a gaggle of bumbling French “gendarmes.”

“We really want the WAIF auction to be THE auction on the island,” said WAIF volunteer and auction organizer Jan Bell.

The money raised will go to a great cause, organizers said.

“Since 1990, we’ve helped generations of critters. It shows a legacy of support from the island that is unique to our community.”

“This event is our largest annual fundraiser and provides money for the daily operation of two shelters, cat adoption centers, medical care for sick animals and crisis-care for those who can’t afford food and medical care for their dogs and cats,” said WAIF board president Pamela Hill-Keeva.

“The art show and the auction will enable WAIF to keep the lights on and maintain day-to-day operations,” she added. “We need the help of the community to keep meeting our goals. We say it out loud, every day – ‘A loving home for every pet.’”

Besides fine food and talent, plenty of tempting auction items will be featured amidst the fun and French festivities.

Accordionist Vern Olsen will set the mood as the evening begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Barn Patio tent.

Guests can register to bid on more than 200 silent auction items, including exquisite glass art, paintings, bed-and-breakfast certificates, gift basket packages and jewelry.

Browse the best of the lots while savoring hors d’oeuvre with a chilled glass of champagne and reviewing the additional 200 live auction items. The three, color-coded silent auction sections will close sequentially until 6:30 p.m.

Dinner will be served promptly in the Barn Bistro at 6:45 p.m. with full wine service completing the dining experience.

A professional auctioneer will lead the bidding on special experiences like dinner for six with Oscar winner Kirk Francis and a signed copy of his cookbook, a bronze sculpture by Georgia Gerber, a “Celebration Chair” by artist Kathy Rogers, a dinner for 12 prepared by Ovations chef Maggie Korvin, one week at the Von Trapp Family Lodge in November in Stowe, Vt., a trip to Bulgaria with artist Stella Canfield, a Chateau Ste. Michelle summer concert with James Taylor with a gourmet picnic for two and the famous “WAIF Disco Party” at Bayview Hall, among other spectacular items. Bidding will go until 10:30 p.m.

Auction attendees will also be able to bid on the “Best in Show” and “Best of Each Medium” of artwork from the “Animal in My HeART” juried art show.

This juried exhibition, featuring more than 100 island artists who submitted work inspired by animals, will be displayed the weekend before the auction in the Crockett Barn from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11.

Organizers said “An Evening in Paris” will be a night to remember – for the fussed over guests and for all the homeless dogs and cats that will be helped with each winning bid.

“WAIF is only able to care for homeless animals with the generous help of the community,” said WAIF executive director Julie Lauderdale.

“We form a partnership that secures the well-being of every animal that comes through our doors. Every donation makes a difference in the life an animal,” she said.

Tickets are $85 per person and can be purchased securely by credit card on the Web site at www.waifanimals.org or by phone at 360-678-1366.