On Saturday Sept. 20, Livingston County’s elites gathered under a pristine white tent at the Wadsworth Homestead to celebrate the third annual Gala in the Valley. This event, chiefly sponsored by Wegmans, collects funds for Livingston County United Way, an umbrella organization that donates money to various smaller charities and programs across the county such as Literacy Volunteers of Livingston County and Girl Scouts of Western New York, Inc.
The Gala has grown every year, with a record of 206 attendees this past weekend.
“It’s the most people we’ve ever had, the most sponsors we’ve ever had,” Gala committee chairman Matt Cole said.
About half of the attendees arrived with the more expensive VIP tickets, allowing them exclusive access to the upper level of the Homestead. They were entertained by Wadsworth resident and event host Louise Wadsworth as they enjoyed their exclusive look at the historic treasures its dozens of rooms hold. This added feature was one of many since last year’s event. The prior Gala had self-serve “stations” where guests picked their dinner plates, while this year the gala featured a more formal four-course meal.
Guests also enjoyed live entertainment by emcee Rich Caniglia, a Rochester meteorologist, and local band Ebb Tide, who played after dinner on an open dance floor.
The night began with a cocktail hour, where guests roamed the spacious and historic mansion in floor-sweeping gowns and pristine tuxes.
“We thought it would be nice to have an event to raise money for United Way, and a black tie event for Livingston County,” Cole said. “It’s fun for everyone to get dressed up and do something special.”
The event had an airy atmosphere due to its predominantly outdoor setting. While guests were free to roam the house, many chose to socialize on the back porch, where they had a clear view of men in garb from the War of 1812 shooting guns from that era.
Between the ticket sales and donations from local businesses, the net amount fundraised for United Way was $20,000. Additional money was raised from a silent auction, for which individuals and businesses both contributed items.
Wegmans raised $10,000 of the $20,000 total, having helped to plan and sponsor the event every year since its conception.
“It’s our commitment to United Way and to Livingston County,” Geneseo Wegmans manager Charlie Hasty said.
Hasty added that he enjoys the community this event fosters and credits its participation to the strong relationship Wegmans has with Livingston County.
“It keeps us current in the community, and it’s the right thing to do,” Hasty said. “It’s a nice way to reward the community.”
While the Gala is only in its third year, the event isn’t dying out anytime soon. “Every year it just keeps growing,” Hasty said.