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Monday, May 20, 2024
Arts: Shaw Shivaree features some ‘money-can’t-buy’ auction items
Chris Semple, chair of the Shaw Shivaree organizing committee, works on plans for the April 15 fundraiser.

Annual fundraiser on April 15 helps kick off festival’s season


Arlyn Levy
Special to The Lake Report

Seven years ago, Chris Semple attended her first Shaw Shivaree and was hooked.

“It was so much fun and a great way to connect with other NOTL residents invested in the future of the Shaw,” she says.

“I decided, then and there, to participate in an even more meaningful way.”

Flash forward to today. A group of eager volunteers and members of the Shaw Festival development team sit around Semple’s dining room table.

As the 2023 committee chair, she calls the meeting to order and they discuss the finishing touches on the April 15 Shivaree – an event that’s not only become seminal to the Shaw, but to the community. 

What started 25 years ago as a friendly get-together to raise money has evolved into a large-scale spring ritual.

Charitable revellers come from across Niagara and as far as Toronto for a spirited celebration (it’s a shivaree after all), enjoying culinary stations, live music and a silent auction featuring noteworthy items and “money-can’t-buy” experiences.

“Our motto is Eat, Drink, Dance and Bid Merry,” says Semple. “And that’s easy to do when you offer the best of the best.”

She’s referring to the food – from some of the most popular spots in the area, including Ruffino’s Pasta Bar & Grill, Treadwell Cuisine, the Garrison House, Wellington Court, Tide & Vine Oyster House, Yorkshire Pudding Catering and Niagara Juice Co. 

“Then there’s wine from Niagara vineyards and beer from Oast House Brewers – all against the backdrop of the George St. Kitts Band. They get people – of all ages – up on their feet.”

A highpoint of the Shivaree is the auction, accessible on mobile devices throughout the evening.

Donations from residents and businesses across the region include popular winery, dining and hotel experiences, hard-to-get-tickets and local art.

And then there’s an element that Semple says sets it apart.   

“It’s unique because attendees also have a chance to bid on priceless opportunities. From a walk-on part in a Shaw Festival production, to canapes on a yacht, or a private party for 40, the experiences are truly one-of-a-kind,” she says.

The money raised supports NOTL’s world-class theatre, which attracts more than 250,000 people each year.

That’s why the location (the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre) and the date (April 15) are intentional. 

“The Shaw Festival is a cultural gem, so we chose a venue that reflects what it’s come to mean for audiences – entertainment, ideas and connection,” says Semple.

“The timing coincides with the kick-off of another outstanding season, with two productions already in full swing.”

Tickets to the Shivaree are $175 per person and can be purchased at shawfest.com, or by calling the box office at 1-800-511-7429.

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