Over the past two years the “Evening in White” has grown, becoming a marquee event for the group leading an effort to breathe life into the former Ball & Socket Factory on West Main Street as a multipurpose arts and community center.
The location has changed each time the event was held. Last year it was held at the Hitchcock-Phillips House, home to the Cheshire Historical Society.
This year will be a little different. The mystery theme of prior events will continue. However, with statewide restrictions on large public gatherings having been enacted, organizers have opted to hold a virtual “Evening In White” on July 16 that families can attend remotely. It will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Instead of charging attendees $100 per ticket, families can register ahead of time and attend for free.
The night of the event, organizers are asking families and small groups of friends to gather in their own venues of choice.
Those gatherings could be indoors, outdoors, with family or friends. In keeping with the “Evening in White” theme, organizers ask that attendees wear white and decorate their settings in white as well.
Karin Arai, who along with Sharon Bergamo, is co-chairing the event, promised it will be an entertaining and engaging evening full of surprises.
“The Ball & Socket Factory was a huge center for the community,” Arai said. “We want to be that structure again for the community.”
So on July 16, they are hoping to “illuminate the night with white.” They are hoping virtual attendees feel inspired to be creative: donning white feather boas, top hats and gloves, and dressing up their own settings with white candles and other decorations.
Those who do get dressed and decorate can then submit pictures and videos taken during the event to organizers, who will award prizes in different categories: best dressed, best table decorations and best scene decorations.
Because it is billed as a mystery event, Arai and Bergamo did not leak any details.
The event had taken its cue from previous “Diner En Blanc” mystery events held in France and other places. It started as a way for Ball & Socket Arts leaders to share their vision for the former factory with local residents. It quickly grew, with last year’s event attracting 200 attendees and raising some $30,000.
Organizers are looking for sponsors for the event. Details on different levels of sponsorship can be found on the Ball & Socket Arts website, ballandsocket.org.
The project to rehabilitate the former Ball & Socket Factory building itself continues. Kevin Daly, co-founder of Ball & Socket Arts, explained two of its former buildings have been completely re-sided, remediated of lead paint, and repainted, as part the first phase of the project.
The group will continue to seek other grant funding and donor support as the project continues. At the same time, Ball & Socket Arts leaders will continue to raise public awareness through programming, Daly explained.
“We don't just need to raise money,” Daly said. “We've got to sell the project. So we need to have fun programming that appeals to people with a variety of different interests.”
Daly expects this year's “Evening In White” will be another memorable evening, albeit one with a unique social distancing wrinkle.
“There was an effort to keep the spirit of the event going,” Daly said.
The local podcast Cheshire Cast will also be broadcasting the event live.
“A multitude of celebrants are going to make an appearance through video stream,” said Corey Nash, co-host of the Cheshire Cast and a member of the Ball & Socket Arts board of directors.
One celebrity has already appeared to help promote the event.
Actor and former Cheshire resident James Van Der Beek appears in a brief video inviting residents to register for the event.
“I think it's amazing that this button factory is being converted into a community arts center. You never know who it's going to inspire,” Van Der Beek said in the video invite, noting he had gotten his own start as an actor as a member of a local community children's theater.
To register or purchase a sponsorship go to www.eventbrite.com and search Evening in White 2020.