The 2018 'Denim and Diamonds' fundraising dinner and auction will be held at the new Williams Riverside venue situated on beautiful wooded acreage in Fairland.

FAIRLAND – Fairland is ready for a very special evening under the stars, spring breeze blowing through a brand new one-of-a-kind vintage-inspired event barn at Williams Riverside in the woods overlooking the Neosho River.

This is the unique and exciting setting for the 2018 'Denim and Diamonds' fundraising dinner and auction starting at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 to support Fairland Public Schools.

This fabulous Fairland Public Schools Enrichment Foundation (FPSEF) annual event is in its the fourth year and this year will be extra special with the fundraiser being held at the new Williams Riverside wedding and event venue located at 60390 East 140 Road in rural Fairland.

“It’s going to be a great time. Last year we played a couple games, had fun with a live and silent auction, ate some great food and had a lot of fun,” FPSEF President Serena Wilson said. “The reason I like our event is, it’s not pretentious, it doesn’t last super late, everybody has a really good time, but we still come out and dress up and show up, and the teachers really appreciate that.”

Fairland teachers are treated to dinner and attendance at the evening free as another show of support from FPSEF and the community thanks to donations from local business and private individuals. Businesses and individuals can still donate sponsorships even if they do not attend, according to Wilson.

The fundraiser will be only the third event held at the stunning, recently constructed Williams Riverside venue, created, owned and operated by Teia and Gordon Williams.

“The first event out here is Fairland Prom and the next weekend is my sister’s wedding. We work better under pressure.” Gordon Williams said with a laugh.

“From the time we bought this land I just thought it was so pretty it would be perfect for a wedding venue,” Teia Williams said.

Inside the rustic chic venue, 'Denim and Diamonds' attendees will be treated to a decadently delicious full dinner and dessert created by catering chefs from Mulligan's at Patricia Island.

“We upped the ticket prices a little bit because we are having such a great meal,” Wilson said. “We say we don’t like to spend the money on the event, we like to spend it on our teachers, so as much as we can get donated, we’ll take it.”

Fairland musicians, Terrah and Nate Kennel, have donated their talents and will entertain guests and provide live musical background for the evening.

“I love that we’re using Fairland people,” Wilson said. “I’m excited about the event because there’s going to be so much more space. Last year we had over 200 attend and we’re growing every year. It’s going to be amazing here; it’s going to be pretty awesome! A lot of people are coming because they want to see the venue. We work really great together, I think it will be an awesome event for Fairland.”

Live and silent auctions will raise more money to award teacher grants through the hosts, FPSEF.

“If someone wants to donate items we are still accepting those,” Wilson said. “We have Shangri-La packages, Patricia Island is giving us a whole bunch of stuff, golf games, Mulligan’s certificates, and we are raffling a Walt Disney World trip. We will still sell tickets the night of the event so people can buy raffle tickets. We are doing the drawing live at the event. They don’t have to be there to win.”

All funds raised by the foundation go directly back to Fairland Public Schools teachers through grants awarded by FPSEF. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization foundation is set up to be supportive of the children and teachers at Fairland Public Schools and their grants provide much-needed learning materials and activities.

“The foundation was started by George Weaver in 2007 to support the teachers, to kind of give them the extra funding that they need. They were just starting to make cuts to education then,” Wilson said. “It’s not just the money, I know teachers feel supported knowing there’s an organization out there saying ‘Hey, we care,’ and then the community shows up and donates. Yes, we give them things for their classrooms so they don’t have to spend their money out of their own pocket, but at the end of the day it’s about, do they feel valued, want to stay, feel a part of the community.”

As just one example of how the funds have been used, FPSEF has helped by buying teachers a shared portable Google Chrome 30 computer lab.

Tickets for the 'Denim and Diamonds' event are $40 per person, or tables may be sponsored seating eight to 10 guests for $400. Ticket purchases and reservations may be made by messaging Wilson on the Fairland Public Schools Enrichment Foundation Facebook page or by texting her at 918-961-1658.

Chance’s to win a package trip to Disney World are available by purchasing a raffle ticket for $10 each or three for $25. Depending on the number of tickets sold, the more expensive and inclusive the trip; each package will include five days/four nights with a four-day park ticket and Disney Dining for each family member, up to four.

Fairland students are currently selling the raffle tickets to win a surprise for the class that sells the most, or tickets may be purchased through PayPal by messaging Wilson on the Fairland Public Schools Enrichment Foundation Facebook page or by texting her at 918-961-1658.

All proceeds will go to the FBSEF and Fairland teachers will have the opportunity to fill out grant requests for academic purposes awarded at the beginning of next school year.

The FPSEF Board’s goal is to also create a $100,000 self-perpetuating endowment fund to draw further from for teacher grants.

“We’re at $85,000,” Wilson said. “We want to establish that nest egg to be able to keep this going for future generations and give grants based on the interest alone.”

Williams Riverside

From a large parking lot and down a gravel pathway, a beautiful surprise is revealed; the Williams Riverside wedding and event venue is nestled on the Williams’ scenic private wooded 80-acre property, a dream brought to reality for the couple.

“I was looking for something to do once our daughter starts school full time, and I still want to be able to do stuff for school with the kids,” Teia Williams said.

The 4,000 square foot rustic barn style venue seats a maximum of 320 guests with tables in romantically lit downstairs areas and window-lined upstairs lofts.

The facility includes a bride’s room downstairs with its own entrance, and a groom’s room upstairs, two restrooms, and a caterer’s kitchen area with a serving window. The venue is air conditioned and heated, and beautifully finished.

“With the balcony, it’s 5,800 square feet,” Gordon Williams said.

Gordon built the barn himself with some contract work and help from friends and family. He does commercial roofing for a living.

The first three scheduled events have driven him to a goal of completing the project by mid-April, and although a labor of love for his wife, after months of hard work Gordon is happy the project is coming to finish.

“The pad was poured in November of last year, and the building should be done in about two weeks,” he said. I’ve done probably 95 percent of the building myself. I worked 14 hours the last two days to get it ready. Yesterday I felt some accomplishment when we got the insulation on.”

The couple will now work on completing some grounds work to complete the venue but have several projects they want to add on later, such as an enclosed chapel and guest cabins.

“It’s one of those things I don’t think its ever going to be finished, and well, I don’t like Pinterest,” Gordon Williams said laughing. “Once the construction’s done it’s all hers.”

The nearly finished project has a dreamlike quality and the venue’s potential is obvious.

“This will be a patio area with extra seating,” Teia Williams said pointing to a paved area surrounded by split rail fencing.

Huge full glass roll-up doors open onto the patio to allow the event barn to be open to the outdoors in good weather. An outdoor open-air chapel sits atop the bank of the river flowing serenely through the property for a spectacular and scenic place to say “I do” or to renew vows for a special anniversary.

The chapel aisle is paved with antique bricks from an old building that brings the wedding party and couple up to a small stage. Wedding guests will be seated on wooden benches made from salvaged planks from an old liquor distillery.

A pond is being built nearby for an added photographic opportunity, and another smaller building is being added for outdoor sound equipment.

“I have all of April booked, one event in May and one in September. I’ve had several people call and some booked for 2019,” Teia Williams said.

The couple and their two children live nearby on the property and Fairland Public Schools is near and dear to the family.

“My Grandpa went to Fairland, and my dad and my sisters,” Teia said. “I think a lot of people want to give and this foundation gives people a chance to.”

“We will soon have two kids in Fairland Schools, we both went to Fairland,” Gordon said. “Any chance we get to support Fairland, we’ll do what we can.”

Wilson added, “We’re all in it together.”

Williams Riverside is now available for all types of events, weddings, proms, reunions, vow renewals, birthdays and more by contacting the Williamses through Facebook messenger or by calling or texting Teia Williams at 918-961-0552.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.