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KINGSBURG – It was both groovy and radical. The annual Ladies Night Out Oct. 10 sponsored by the Kingsburg District Chamber of Commerce encompassed two decades that seemed to evoke totally awesome memories for participants and organizers alike. The theme this year was ‘Taking it Old School - 1970s and 1980s.’

With local vendors offering hors’d’oeuvres, sparkling drinks and specials for the event, even more vendors were brought in to give participants more shopping opportunities. A highlight of the event was the reveal of the new Dala Trolley made possible by an agreement between the City of Kingsburg and the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency. Rounding out the evening was live music by the local band Prestige that turned Draper Street into an impromptu dance floor.

The event served as a fundraiser for the Chamber with 10 percent of the ticket sales going to the local Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers.

Chamber organizer Barbara Little said the event was so popular, even a few men joined in the shopping and food sampling that night.

“It’s been a great night. I’d say we sold close to 500 tickets.” They had 300 tickets ready to go, but within an hour, those were sold. The 400 bracelets for the event were snapped up and even more ladies showed up, so the Chamber improvised with simple swag bags but was still able to accommodate all the event-goers that night.

“We’re thankful we were able to pull this off so shortly after the Crawfish Festival,” Little said of that Sep. 21 event. The theme for the annual Ladies Night changes every year with a committee bouncing around ideas until one sticks.

“Somebody thought of it and we ran with it. It’s been awesome,” Little said. “Everybody’s dressed up and we announced the vendors and then drove around a few times. It looks like they’re busy and our merchants are quite busy, too. That’s a big deal since they matter to us.”

Some shoppers said their work schedules conflict with the Downtown shops’ regular hours, so having extended evening hours gave the women a chance to shop and check out the local eateries and newly opened venues.

“They get to try a little something at the restaurants and go into Uptown Sprouts and Trinkets and Treasures who have all kinds of little goodies and they’re having their own raffles there. That brought people in,” Little said.

Saira Rocha has attended Ladies Nights for the past three years and was finally able to be joined by her friend, Kimberly Brooks. Brooks’ work schedule prevented her from attending previously, but the duo made up for lost time by dressing to the theme and wearing colorful, neon attire.

“This is what we know,” Brooks said of their neon outfits. “It’s the bright colors, the fun of it and not worrying about name brands, but just the colors and fun.”

“I love that the shops are opened. The atmosphere and food and drinks are always a plus,” Rocha said. “There are a few new shops I didn’t even know had gone in, so it was cool to see that. Now we’re going to stop in at Corsaro’s and make our way around to Bella Bakery.”

White Lily Day Spa owner Kim White said all the different themes for the Ladies Night have been fun to dress up for and decorate the spa to match. This year, they even won the best-decorated window contest.

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“This one was really fun getting ready for, well they all are. The band is amazing and it’s been fun dressing up. I feel like I’m in my element. I love this music.”

Heidi Briscoe stopped into White Lily Day Spa to touch up her hairspray with help from Melissa Viehbeck. Briscoe dressed as 80s icon Cyndi Lauper “because I am Cyndi Lauper in my dreams.”

She said she was a kid in the 1980s so she does have memories of growing up in that decade. She went online to find her neon pink outfit, but the ultra-teased blonde hair is all hers.

“This is my natural hair, just teased. Tonight’s just fun. We’re here with a group of friends and it’s just fun and low-key. We’ve been to quite a few of the shops and that new shop that just opened,” she said of Our Farmer’s Table.

Our Farmer’s Table owner Julie Soares opened her shop up just in time for the Ladies Night Out and said the event gave her the opportunity to get input from potential customers.

“It’s a great kick off to let people know and see for themselves what we do and what we’re about and to ask their advice on what to carry. We really want to get their feedback.”

And more than that, the atmosphere gave women a chance to have fun with just the gals for at least one evening.

“This is a great community and tonight people get to meet each other. We’re so busy in our lives so this helps us connect. It’s fantastic. The women don’t have someone saying ‘come on, hurry’ or the kids, so they can take their time. It’s more of a social event.”

Later that night, Kathy Estes won the costume contest wearing a black feather boa, animal print pants and a dazzling golden cape, along with bejeweled make-up. After noticing the Orchard Supply tag on the cape, she realized it’s actually a Christmas tree skirt, but that made winning all the more fun.

“I asked my girlfriends, ‘when did Orchard Supply start selling clothes?’ They laughed and said it’s a Christmas tree skirt. We laughed so hard.”

Since many of the participants were decked out in neon tutus, leg warmers that were in style in the 1980s and fringed vests and tie-dye outfits from the 1970s, there was plenty of competition for the costume contest that night. Estes said it was her friends’ support that put her over the top to win the contest since the decision hinged on crowd reaction.

“I had a lot of wonderful friends on here tonight that cheered me on. Ladies’ Night Out is all about making friends and meeting new friends. This is a wonderful event. I hope Kingsburg keeps doing it.”

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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