The Cairnwood 2009 Roaring 20’s Gala

The Gala at Cairnwood was the cat’s meow. What could be more swell than having a big party at the ritziest joint in town? The house was lookin’ all spiffy with decorations, flowers and lots of other keen stuff, and man… there was more hooch than a gin mill! There was all kinds of hotsy-totsy dames and flappers, shieks and gents dancing, drinking, and socializing with some of the finest grub served this side of Philadelphia. The whole thing was just the bee’s knees!

(And if you lived in the Roaring 20’s you might have spoken that way, but today…)

The Cairnwood ‘Roaring 20’s Gala – held on March 27, 2009 – was a huge success… in every imaginable way. What an elegant and stately home in which to have such an amazing event. The Gilded Age met The Roaring Twenties with the help of some of the finest event decorators, florists and planners in the business, and unlike the prohibition years of of 1920 through 1933, there was certainly no shortage of alcohol, with a few flappers (ladies in 20’s attire) pouring martinis in the Great Hall. The guests looked fantastic, all dressed to the nines in all sorts of 20’s era outfits… from fancy to flapper and gangster to golfer, the attendees came dressed for the occasion. As far as ‘the grub’ being the finest this side of Philadelphia… Let me just tell you I feel bad for the people on the other side of the city. The event was – as Shannon Walko would say – ‘fierce.’

And the tie in to the 1920’s? Well, some believe that the ‘Age Of Invention’ ended in 1910, but not according to Harold Pitcairn, who was born and raised at Cairnwood. Harold made multiple contributions to aviation, and his autogiro is the precursor to the modern helicopter. Some people of notoriety who found their way into the cockpit of a Pitcairn Autogiro include Roscoe Turner, Charles Lindberg, and Amelia Earhart. It was very posh at the time to be involved with this new technology and any pilot worth his or her salt wanted to show their mastery of the air by piloting an autogiro as well. There were new frontiers to explore in altitude, speed and endurance and these pilots had the daring to find the limits of man and machine.

Now for the music program. This year, Marketing Manager Shannon Walko and Cairnwood Director Evelyn Stephens gave me a green light, and although working with Missy Pendelton on last years program was a lot of fun, I couldn’t have felt more honored when Shannon said “You know what you’re doing, we have total faith in you.” Now I must say I’ve had practice with programming the music for this era, as I was asked several years ago to help design the music for the Dali Exhibition at The Philadelphia Museum Of Art. Now Salvadore loved his Charleston, and Scott Joplin’s Rags filled the halls at Cairnwood in celebration of the period. The 20’s were revolutionary musically as well as culturally, as Jazz first emerged, evolving out of Rag in New Orleans. What better genre of music for such a festive gala than Jazz and Rag, two new and uniquely American styles of music. Artists like Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington first stepped on to the music scene introducing the beginnings of what was later (in the 1930’s) to become known as Swing. I also included several Waltzes, Tangos as well as sprinkles of Swing in the billiard room. All in all, a fun project to have been a part of. There was also a Rag/Jazz band that played all of the favorites from the time period.

Before I conclude, I just want to express my personal thanks to everyone who participated while giving special mention to several friends of mine, both new and old. First, Jackie Bayne and her husband Patrick Simione. I will be posting a picture of myself in a future blog and to be honest, anyone who can make me look that good is one heck of a photographer. Jackie’s website is, soon to be Love Shack Photo (will add new link later). Also Mark Kingsdorf from Queen Of Hearts Wedding Consultants – – Mark truly is a rock star, and although he is an old friend, he is new to our team at Cairnwood and we are glad to have him. Two more shout outs to new friends I met, Hope & Donuta at HD Design- – and Jeff from Natural Designs – – Jeff is a true flower artist. And lastly, to Brian Toner and company at Eventions When God said ‘Let there be light’ he had no idea what Brian would do with it. Eventions is the foremost lighting company in Philadelphia, and truly creates magic.

Here is a short video clip of the highlights of the event (click here) created by Brooke Rudnick from Marc Smiler Video

As always, thanks to Evelyn Stephens, Shannon Walko, Gala Chair Jennifer Pronesti and Website Chair Missy Pendelton. Thanks also to Pitcairn for their generous contributions, Leila Miller and Lindsay Martin for their tireless help and to Reid Heinrichs for the nine volt batteries.

A more comprehensive list of all the sponsors who participated can be found at the Gala website


-Craig Sumsky
Cutting Edge Entertainment

Post Script: Cairnwood is an amazing and elegant facility for weddings receptions and other social events. Contact them at 215.947.2004 or at their website

The caterers below are the ‘preferred’ catering companies at Cairnwood.

The Gala Menu

The caterers out-did themselves from last years Gala, because the cuisine was out of this world, which is no surprise when you have such world-class caterers involved. As a lover of food (and taster at the event) I feel obligated to share my mouth-watering experience, so here are a list of the caterers and their respective contributions.

Culinary Concepts

Salmon and fennel cakes with creamy lemon dressing, scallop and crab cakes with pickled mango Chicken,
and spinach cakes with lemon basil sauce, corn and shiitake mushroom risotto cakes.


Red Chili Short Ribs with Tomato Grits & Squid Linguini with Black Trumpet Mushrooms & Ricotta Salata.

Jeffrey Miller Catering

The 20th Century embraced a new invention that revolutionized mobility for all Americans: the automobile! In 1921 the Pig Stand
the first drive thru – made its debut in Dallas, Texas with its tasty Pork Sandwiches which remain a favorite today.

Jimmy Duffy’s Catering

Steak Diane Flambe, Clams Casino, oysters on a half shell. Served with mashed potatoes.

Max Hansen Caterer

Chicken Imperial with melted leeks, sauteed oyster mushrooms, and wilted baby arrowhead spinach, served over an herbed rice pilaf.

Peachtree & Ward

Display of sliced breads, assorted crackers, Fig bread, quince paste, Marcona almonds & sage honey.

Karen’s Catering

Alcohol, and LOTS of it… Thanks Karen 🙂

Robert Fair Catering

Seafood Martinis (My personal favorite) Shrimp, Scallops, Crab Claws, & Coconut Lobster Served with seaweed salad & cocktail sauce.

4 Responses

  1. Wow Craig, your words and Jackie’s photograph’s capture the evening perfectly.
    An evening that Cairnwood’s graciousness and their family of preferred professionals created a blast!

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