By Stephanie Wilks
September 17, 2012
If you’ve yet to experience the enchantment of Zoofari’s grandeur, it can best be compared to the magical parade in Aladdin. For many, Zoofari is the most anticipated party of the year.
Just the thought of what we might wear, yes to a new animal print dress from Nordstrom, no to fur; who we might meet, Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard comes to mind; and what delicacies may hit our tongues, will Jean-Robert make lamb or quail??, is enough to stir up butterflies in our stomachs. Clearly I’m not talking about your average block party.
Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard with (left) Jan Portman, and (right) Marybeth Young
At the cornerstone of the event’s allure is Zoofari’s location. Every year thousands of Cincinnatians scoop up tickets priced at $250 a piece in order to experience this grand black-tie affair amidst the jungle of The Cincinnati Zoo.
Yes, tickets are a bit pricey, but the event never fails to sell out. With plenty of fully stocked all-you-can drink bars, endless entertainment, and proceeds directly benefiting the quality of life for our adorable, furry friends, the price tag is well worth the goods. After all, how many people can say they’ve sipped champagne five feet from a Siberian Lynx?
Mike with Gabriel “the Potto”
“Wild India” was Zoofari 2012’s theme, orchestrated by co-chairs Tim and Linnea Bonacci, along with a modest committee of fellow animal lovers. Of course, like most high-profile events in Cincinnati, Joe Rigotti and his team at Accent on Cincinnati coordinated the party’s layout, timing, lighting, and overall theme.
Mike Cornette, Joe Rigotti, and Bren Cornette
Patrons dressed in saris and nehrus floated through the crowd as we grabbed our second drink of the night at the Historic Vine Street Village of The Cincinnati Zoo. Yes, I said “second.” The first glass of champagne was handed to us on our way into the park as if to say, “Welcome to the Zoo. I hope you weren’t planning to act like a civilized human being tonight…”
Now I don’t about you, but after a couple of drinks I’m on the prowl for some snacks! Vendors like Boca, Cumin, Fusian, Graeter’s, Jean Robert’s Table, Jeff Ruby’s, Nada, Orchid’s, Whole Foods, The Bon Bonerie, and Via Vite – to name a few – sponsored tables beginning at the entrance, peppered throughout the park, and inside the party tent ensuring that we were never hungry or unsatisfied.
About that party tent — it’s like I’d entered the wedding reception for all three Kardashian sisters. This is the moment your eyes glaze over in awe, and you start to think, as you suddenly feel inhibited by those gorgeous Prada heels, maybe I should have brought those city slips after all.
Throughout the night we toured tables filled with impressive raffle and silent auction items: packages like “Sleep with The Manatees!” and “Dine with The Cats!” We sipped cocktails under the shadow of giant golden elephants and were even entertained with a Bollywood-inspired performance by members of The Cincinnati Ballet.
For those of us feeling frisky, we hopped onto the dance floor and boogied the night away to the cover tunes of band, “Your Villain My Hero.” And just to verify the event’s grandiosity, Framester doubled its efforts by hosting not one, but two photo booths to ensure guests were at maximum memory-making capacity.
Nearly 2,500 attended this year’s Zoofari, setting an all-time record for the Zoo. While some of us came out with to-go boxes, or were lucky raffle or silent auction winners, all of us made it out of the park safe and sound via charter buses and armed with late night cheese coneys courtesy of our city’s beloved Skyline Chili.
Tim Pohlman, Jody Pohlman, Megan Jackson, Brittany Pohlman
After being pampered by dozens of the Tri-State’s most veteran event sponsors, life doesn’t get much better than Zoofari 2012. But one thing is for sure; next year I’m definitely bringing that spare pair of flats.
*For more pictures from the event please view our complete photo album on Facebook.to top ↑