The popular Festival of Baskets event at the Woman's Club is billed as a great way to find a gift for Mother's Day. But the real gift, say organizers, is the quality time that comes with taking Mom -- and Grandma -- along for a day of shopping, lunch and a fashion show.
"It's a nice, quiet afternoon," said Deniece Jones, head of the club's ways and means committee. "It's always been kind of a grandmother-mother-daughter deal. It's a good excuse to get out and socialize that's not too expensive, so you can bring the kids and grandkids, too."
For nine years, the afternoon fete has been bringing generations of women and their families together for a day of lunch and artfully arranged prizes. Festival of Baskets is the club's second-largest fundraiser of the year; all proceeds are donated to the many scholarships and charities the group supports, including the Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army, and Bakersfield Homeless Center.
The day begins at 11:30 a.m. (doors open at 10:30 a.m.) with Cobb salad and cherry cobbler for dessert, provided by Mossman's Catering. Immediately following is a fashion show, featuring the latest spring trends for women and girls carried by local clothiers, including Sugardaddy's, Apricot Lane, Victoria's, Shabby Girls and Lil' Rockstarz.
"We have a slightly smaller fashion show this year," Jones said, "but no matter what, I always try and keep it all local. This year, all of the shops are privately owned small businesses -- I like to keep it in the community."
Once the models have walked the runway, the raffling begins and continues throughout the remainder of the afternoon. Each of the 32 baskets (put together by Woman's Club volunteers) is organized around a particular theme, such as cooking, beauty, food and wine, and outdoor entertaining.
Winning is about as straightforward as it gets: You buy your tickets, six for $5, drop a ticket in the container in front of the basket you want and wait while enjoying conversation, cobbler and coffee.
"The baskets we have received this year are great," said Jones. "I've been really enthused by the things people have donated. We have a couple filled with cookies and candy, everything that goes with wine, there's one with champagne -- we have a good variety."
And, just so there are no hurt feelings, each $15 children's ticket includes a kid-themed gift basket, filled with coloring books, crafts, dolls, stuffed animals and other items -- no raffle (or temper tantrums) required.
For Jones, the Woman's Club, with its calendar filled with activities and community events, has always provided plenty of opportunities to socialize for a good cause, and the Festival of the Baskets is no exception.
"It's a really good chance to spend time with your daughter, or meet some new people. For a lot of people, who, like me, worked all their lives, we socialized during work. But once you retire, you get away from that. That's one of the nicest things about these events -- it brings people together."