SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — The New Jersey Festival Orchestra’s annual gala, taking place Saturday, April 25, goes beyond the usual format with the theme "Masquerade.” The dress code for the event, to be held at Shackamaxon Country Club in Scotch Plains, is black tie optional.

“Masks are optional, but we hear that many attendees are preparing masks and are very excited that this year's gala is moving beyond the traditional dinner-dance mold,” said Liz Ryan, the NJFO’s director of marketing.

The evening will include live and silent auctions.

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“There will be an array of unique items and experiences for auction, including getaway packages to exotic locations, tickets to some of the best theater locations in New York and New Jersey, premium ticket packages for Giants football and Rangers hockey games, as well as eclectic New York dining opportunities,” said Ryan. “A silent auction of items donated by over 70 local retailers, restaurants and businesses will also run throughout the evening.”

There will also be a 50/50 cash raffle. Raffle tickets may be purchased at the NJFO office in Downtown Westfield and winners need not be present to claim a prize.

The yearly gala is a key element of the funding mix that’s necessary to operate the orchestra, according to Ryan. She said that supplemental fundraising is critical because only about a third of the orchestra’s revenue comes from the sale of tickets.

“The arts are again taking a fiscal hit this year and it is essential that we rally to fill the gap in public funding in order to continue the tradition of offering world-class professional live music within our community,” said Ann Clancy, chair of the fundraising committee, NJFO Board of Trustees. “We want to help ensure that Westfield and the surrounding community will have access to fine music for many years to come.”

Tickets for the gala, which start at $185 per person, must be bought in advance. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.njfestivalorchestra.org or call the office at 908-232-9400 on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“NJFO would like to acknowledge the outstanding generosity of Corporate Sponsor Mercedes Benz dealer Ray Catena of Union,” said Ryan. Associate sponsors are PNC Wealth Management and PSE&G.

“We cordially invite the entire community  to put on their dancing shoes and join us
for an enchanting evening of gourmet dining, music, dancing and fabulous auctions offering unique goods and experiences,” added Clancy.