Fresh 2010 at The Elkins Estate

Center Court Red Carpet

The Philadelphia chapter of the International Special Events Society (I.S.E.S) held its annual “Fresh” gala this year at The Elkins Estate, in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.

If you aren’t in the event biz, that sentence says very little, so allow me to illuminate.

Perhaps I’m biased, but I honestly believe that the folks involved in Philadelphia’s event industry are perhaps some of the finest in the world. On March 24, 2010, I.S.E.S. assembled some of the most brilliant and creative minds in the Philadelphia event business to transform The Elkins Estate from an already stately and magnificent venue to an out-of-this-world magical extravaganza. I’ve attended dozens of industry galas and events, and although “Fresh” is in essence just another industry trade show, the planners, coordinators and creators of this particular event outdid themselves. The event was truly spectacular.

Elkins Estate

To say I.S.E.S. event really isn’t truly fair though, because it is people and ideas that really made this happen, and not an acronym. To attempt to name everyone who contributed would be a task I could never achieve, but the true catalyst’s are a list much less insurmountable, first and foremost being Nancy Bauman (NKB events).  As the immediate past President of I.S.E.S. Philadelphia, the job of producing this years Fresh fell upon Nancy, who in her infinite wisdom chose Mark Kingsdorf  (Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants) to chair the event, and together they assembled a crack team of professionals (caterers, entertainers, decorators, etc) to pull off something truly unique.

Elkins Estate

The second great stroke of wisdom was to host the event at The Elkins Estate’s Elstowe Manor, one of the newest and most exciting venues in the Philadelphia area. The enormous mansion – constructed in the late nineteenth century – is a breathtaking monument to the affluence and grandeur of the Gilded Age in which it was built. The core staff at Elkins – Anessa Pappas and Lindsay Martin (along with Amy and Melissa) – were a big part of the event as well, working in concert with Nancy Bauman’s I.S.E.S. team.

Although my company is one of the select few on the hand-picked preferred vendors list at Elkins, we sat this one out and I opted to just be an attendee for the evening, but several others on the list were instrumental in pulling off the soirée. Brian Toner and Rian Winther of Eventions Productions were in charge of lighting and electricity, while Christopher from Offshoots was the decor chair, and Gene from Provence Catering was the catering chair.

In speaking with Anessa and Lindsay afterward, they were grateful to all the participants for allowing them to introduce the venue in such a grand way, and if this was The Elkin’s big “coming out” party, it couldn’t have been done any bigger. As the keepers of the Mansion, the Elkins staff always have it’s integrity and preservation first and foremost in their minds, and to that end they gave the most credit to Phyllis Jablinowski of Eventricity.

God Save The Queen

As the story goes, sometime during The Great Depression in the 1930s, the estate was sold to the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine, who preserved the integrity of the buildings and grounds while operating the manor as a women’s religious retreat. As it turns out, Phyllis’s Aunt was one of the sisters who lived at Elstowe, and Phyllis spent time there when she was a little girl. Her fond memories there as a youth left her with a deep love and respect for the Mansion and property, and her emotional attachment to The Elkins Estate make it’s safekeeping a priority. Phyllis is the unofficial “Guardian Angel” of Elkins you might say, and the staff entrust her with its conservation.

Speaking of conservation, The Elkins Estate in a non-profit conservancy, and welcome donations of time (volunteerism) and funding in it’s ongoing restoration. If you aren’t familiar with the estate, check it out in the link below. I’ve been involved since the team took over nearly a year ago, and if what they’ve accomplished so far is any reflection of what’s to come, I expect nothing less than miracles.

Thanks to I.S.E.S. and The Elkins Estate for creating such a fabulous event.

Craig Sumsky
Cutting Edge Entertainment

Photos of The Elkins Estate courtesy of Love Shack Photo –

Film courtesy of Dave Williams and CinemaCake –

Photo of Craig and Phyllis courtesy of The English Godfather (Paul Evans)

The Elkins Estate –

I.S.E.S. –

8 Responses

  1. Craig, You write so eloquently, you are a great Storyteller, PR man, historian and bloody good fellow for recognizing so many of the key people who contributed their time. Also thank you to the bands, caterers, Love Shack Photo, Cinema Cake Film makers and all the industry people who showed off their services throughout the beautiful Elkins Estate. PS. Who was that very tall lady in red and the ladies greeting everyone at the door? Their outfits were retro!

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