Guests of Fostering Connections St. Johns had the chance to “hop down the rabbit hole” and visit Fantasy Farms in Palm Valley for the organization’s inaugural Alice In Wonderland-themed event, the Tipsy Tea Party, on Feb. 29.
“This is our inaugural fundraiser to benefit our summer leadership program for our foster teens and our college scholarship at St. Johns River State College,” said Fostering Connections St. Johns founder Aubrie Simpson-Gotham. “We’re working to endow a scholarship, so our foster youth are able to pay for their textbooks and expenses that aren’t covered by the state.”
The journey started as soon as guests parked and ventured through the Fantasy Farms trails. Attire ranged from casual, to black-tie, to over-the-top - Mad Hatter style, with women wearing mini formal top hats and vibrant-colored dresses.
Local businesses such as Sweet City Cupcakes and The Spice & Tea Exchange provided sweet snacks and cocktails for guests to indulge in, including Wonderland-themed cupcakes and “chaitinis” for the chilly evening.
More colorful cocktails awaited on the outdoor patio, along with a silent auction and a wall of envelopes to the side, each labeled with a specific number.
“Each envelope is labeled with a donation amount and you can donate to whatever envelope you want,” Simpson-Gotham explained. “If all the envelopes are full by the end of the night, we will have raised $5,000 on this alone!”
Inside the Fantasy Farms doors, savory hors d’oeuvres like cranberry brie rolls, bite-size steak with garlic and butter sauce and asiago-stuffed red potatoes, awaited guests.
Alice, herself, even stopped by—with the Red Queen, courtesy of Fairytale Headquarters. The two characters put their fictional differences aside to entertain and pose for photos with excited attendees and then danced the night away with music from Northeast Florida Inflatables.
After some “pre-gaming” cocktails and chatter, guests strolled the Fantasy Farms grounds, where parrots and cockatoos welcomed everyone with a sweet, “hello!,” and lemurs climbed to the front of their cages, investigating who, in addition to them, was making all the racket.
“They’re so social,” a party guest exclaimed as she and her group ventured into the Fantasy Farms car garage, where antique vehicular gems are displayed.
As it turned out, the Tipsy Tea Party did not raise $5,000 through the envelope wall, but it did raise $7,000 for the Fostering Connections St. Johns in total.
“I think it was a great turn out for the first event,” Simpson-Gotham said. “It was a great opportunity to connect with like-minded supporters. And it was just a wonderful opportunity to connect the community, get them involved and spread awareness about foster care.”
Photos by Daniela Toporek