STORY BY BETH LEVALLEY
Long flowing dresses, bold high heels, sharp tuxes — you would think Des Moines was having its annual Oscars awards party Saturday, not a night celebrating local arts.
Saturday night at 6 p.m., Bravo Greater Des Moines kicked off its 10th annual gala at Hy-Vee Hall.
With 1,500 people in attendance and enough food to feed double that amount, the party was one to look forward to.
With the theme “Tensational,” Bravo focused on their 10th anniversary and how far they’ve come since their founding.
Bravo, a nonprofit organization started in Des Moines in 2004, grants money to the arts and culture of the city.
The organization’s grants are supplied by motel and hotel taxes from the surrounding suburbs, including Ankeny, Waukee and 14 other local cities.
Bravo then redistributes the money to local Des Moines arts programs to ensure culture stays alive in the city.
After checking coats and receiving complimentary wine, the gala started off with a cocktail hour and appetizers where guests mingled and admired each other’s extravagance for the night.
Staff with cauliflower and bacon shooters, jumbo shrimp shooters and wine floated among the guests, filling their empty hands as needed.
Mary Foss, a harpist in the Des Moines area, played during cocktail hour to reiterate the success Bravo has had over the past 10 years.
She played in the gathering area while the Central Iowa Wind Ensemble played in the dining area.
Eventually the guests were shuffled into the dining area where luxury was taken to the next level.
With dim lighting, the large room was decorated in chandeliers, black tablecloths, orchids and most of all, elegance.
There were six stations set up for guests to enjoy their meal, four stations featuring complimentary wine and beer, a martini bar and two dessert stations.
After dinner, co-founder Steve Zumbach was honored for his work with the organization.
He explained the importance of the people who helped start this foundation.
Connie Wimer, a key leader in Des Moines organizations, was mentioned several times as a significant contributor to the organization.
As the founder of Winefest, an annual fundraiser in Des Moines, Wimer chose to donate the festival’s profits each year to the Bravo Foundation.
Combined with the tax dollars collected each year, Bravo has donated approximately $3 million to the Des Moines arts community.
Local bakeries such as Scratch Cupcakery and Crème Cupcakes and Dessert were supporters of the events.
Scratch Cupcakery provided guests with their mini cupcakes while Crème Cupcakes brought a four-tiered cake featuring cake truffles attached to the sides. Chocolate martinis were also served at dessert.
Although the gala was a celebration of 10 years in service for the Des Moines Bravo organization, a little controversy at the event still ensued.
Des Moines residents were unhappy with the decision to feature a Chicago band rather than a Des Moines native.
Regardless of the disappointment, Bravo and the Chicago band succeeded in creating an unforgettable ambiance for the evening.
With 14 members including stringed instruments, four vocalists, a saxophone and more, the lively band kept the dance floor packed the entire night.
At one point, the tenor and alto saxophones had a duet they brought out to the dance floor.
Holly Evans, a guest of the gala and a Crème Cupcake employee, said she was glad she was invited to join the evening fun.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I definitely didn’t expect this,” she said. “The band is great, the people are great, the food is great; there’s nothing to complain about!”