Garden Party returns after two-year hiatus

Annual fundraiser for Exeter murals will be held at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 15 at Mixter Park

EXETER – Joining the list of fundraisers returning to in-person events is the Garden Party in Exeter.

This will be the 19th annual Garden Party held at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 15 but the first since 2019. This year’s event is themed “Preserving the Heart of Exeter” and will again take place at Mixter Park, located on the southeast corner of Pine and E streets beneath the city’s first and largest mural, “The Orange Harvest.” The event will include dinner, entertainment, live and silent auctions, and a fun time for all.

The event is a major fund-raiser for Exeter, A Festival of Arts, the nonprofit foundation funding Exeter’s outdoor gallery of scenes from the city’s past. The volunteer organization is under the direction of the Exeter Chamber of Commerce and dedicated to promoting the arts and tourism while reflecting on Exeter’s history and culture. Exeter, A Festival of Arts committee members are Sandy Blankenship, Greg Crosson, Mike Deathriage, Adam Ennis, Mickey Hirni, Tricia Kirksey, Dora Lee, Gary Mussen, Betsy Peterson, Tina Rice, Brian Schelling, and Andy Snodgrass.

Proceeds from the event help provide financing for more murals in Exeter.

The mural program has generated local commerce through tourism by making the city a destination on the way to Sequoia National Park. Currently, there are 34 murals and more are planned. Tourism in Exeter has more than doubled every year since 1996 when the first mural was completed. Historic brick buildings provide canvasses for the beautiful murals painted by professional artists from throughout the nation. But murals aren’t cheap and, just like the scenes they depict, require an entire town of supporters working toward a common goal.

The mural committee has been fortunate to have many of the local clubs and businesses assist in its goal through major contributions. Guided group tours can be arranged by calling the Exeter Chamber at 592-2919. Brochures for self-guided tours are available at the Mural Gift Shop at Mixter Park. Many others have shown their support by attending events and arranging group mural tours, longtime committee member Mickey Hirni said.

Tickets to this year’s Garden Party are $60 per person and must be purchased by Sept. 20. For tickets, contact the Exeter Chamber or any mural committee member. Committee members are Sandy Blankenship, Greg Crosson, Mike Deathriage, Adam Ennis, Mickey Hirni, Tricia Kirksey, Dora Lee, Gary Mussen, Betsy Peterson, Brian Schelling and Andy Snodgrass. Sponsorships are available for $1,000 (Orange Harvest), $750 (When Emperor’s Ruled) and $600 (The People Behind the Label). Checks can be made payable to Exeter, A Festival of Arts/Garden Party at 20175 Ave. 312, Exeter, CA 93221.

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