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North Augustans celebrate arts, heritage at Paint Your Palate

NORTH AUGUSTA — Friends of the Arts and Heritage Center of North Augusta gathered Friday evening for one of the facility's biggest annual events: "Paint Your Palate," a fundraiser featuring dinner and a variety of creations and donations from local artists and those who especially appreciate their work.  

This year's event, with Chris Garrison and Melody Garrison as co-chairmen, had about 175 guests, was held in the North Augusta Community Center and included news at the leadership level. Theresa Rousseau, who has been executive director of the Arts and Heritage Center of North Augusta for the past two and a half years, is moving to Washington, D.C., in harmony with her husband's shifting work assignment.

Rousseau's successor is to be Mary Anne Bigger, known to some through her leadership of North Augusta Forward. Bigger will step into her new role March 1, with Rousseau on the scene through March to help with the adjustment process.

"We had a great event. I was very, very pleased," said Rousseau, who also recalled some results from the silent and live auctions. "We had some wonderful pieces of Baynham pottery that sold. We had Disney tickets … and a lot of art."

Some of the items receiving "fast and furious" bidding, she added, were for a "dessert of the month" and a "dinner of the month," through which the winning bidder will receive a homemade culinary creation on the first day of each month, for a year, prepared by an ACHNA booster. 

Among the facility's biggest boosters in attendance was Angela Burkhalter. She later pointed out that the Arts and Heritage Center is "open for the community, but it takes support to keep the operations going, so we're very grateful for membership and those patrons who come out and support our main fundraiser."

She added, "I think people had fun, and the food was delicious, and we came out on the good end of it." She pointed out that her son-in-law, Bob Young, was successful in bidding for a Rec Tec grill, "so we've got the wood-pellet cooking method to try out this week."

One of the most popular features was a "wine wall," with dozens of bottles of French creations available for bidding. "The $20 donation gets you one bottle from the wall, and you don't know which bottle it's going to be," Rousseau said, confirming the offerings were "all very good quality French wine, so people were thrilled with it." 

Among the facility's biggest sponsors are Orano Federal Services, Beta Sigma Phi, Crown Jewelers, Wells Fargo, Sertoma Club of North Augusta, Potash Corp and University Health Systems. Cassie Bayer is the current president of the Arts and Heritage Center of North Augusta's board of directors. 

"This is our main fundraiser each year," Burkhalter noted. "We do a few other small ones and we get considerable support through memberships, but this is a significant part of or operations budget, so we just appreciate the participation."