A sell-out crowd packed the Barrel House in Newton for “NOW We Gotta Laugh,” a fundraiser for the Sussex County Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), formed just over one year ago.

“The phone was ringing off the hook with people calling about the event,” said Becky Burkhardt, who co-owns the Barrel House with chef Craig Venditti. “We were pleased to host the fundraiser and to introduce many new people to our restaurant and to downtown Newton.”

Chapter President Lindsay Campbell welcomed the audience, noting that while NOW’s mission, to organize and take action with the aim of bringing women into full and equal participation in our county, state, and country through grassroots activism, education, and community service is a serious one, the night was a chance to relax and laugh, meet new people and enjoy great food and entertainment.

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"We are so happy we could bring local friends and neighbors together to enjoy the performances of these amazingly talented women,” Campbell added. “There are so many wonderful people and resources in the Sussex County area and getting the word out about what's available and what's possible here is a major portion of what our chapter hopes to accomplish.”

“We are not the one-issue organization that so many people seem to think we are,” she continued. “Our core issues are diverse, and we look forward to doing all that we can to improve our community through a variety of initiatives. This year our primary focus will be voter registration efforts, particularly in terms of getting young people excited about participating in our electoral process."

Lori Space Day, aka “Zookeeper Lori,” made her stand-up comedy debut to open the show, sharing hilarious tales of her adventures with the animals at her family’s well-known Sussex County zoo. She was followed by local musician Theresa Hamel, who sang and played guitar and ukulele, and shared some jokes of her own with the audience.

Headliner Flo Hannes, a comic and professor at SUNY Orange in New York, kept the laughs going, performing “When Did I Become My Mother,” her one-woman comedy show. Hannes is an active supporter of many community programs and agencies including "Weaving the Community: The Orange County 9/11 Quilt"--an Occupational Therapy Assistant Program initiative involving 1,600 members of the Orange County community and has been recognized by the YWCA Orange County and Girls Scouts Heart of the Hudson. She has helped raise over $30,000 for not-for-profit agencies.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Sussex County NOW. For more information about the organization, visit www.sussexcountynow.org or follow the chapter on social media at www.facebook.com/SussexCountyNow/.