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story.lead_photo.caption Anne Eldridge, executive director of the United Way of White County, stands next to some of the silent-auction items that will be available during the second Jeans & Bling on Nov. 16 at the Searcy Country Club. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

— The first Jeans & Bling went so well a year ago that the United Way of White County is doing it again.

The second one will be Nov. 16 at the Searcy Country Club, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Anne Eldridge, who became executive director of the United Way of White County a little more than a year ago, said the turnout for last year’s event was great.

“Last year, we netted $6,330,” she said. “We sold a little more than 100 tickets. We wanted it to be $10,000, but what we got was really good. It was a first-time event, so we were really pleased with the turnout.”

Tickets are $55 in advance or $60 at the door and are available at the United Way office, 106 N. Spring St. in Searcy, or online at www.eventbrite.com.

“The ticket sales have been right on target with last year,” Eldridge said. “I would love to have more publicity, just to make sure that everyone in the community knows about it.”

The ticket price includes hors d’oeuvres and the tasting of six craft beers.

“We have a silent auction where we solicit things from businesses and individuals in the community,” Eldridge said. “We’re really excited about that. We’ve gotten some great things already.”

Door prizes will also be given out during the event, Eldridge said, and two local musicians will provide music.

Joe Burton of Searcy will play acoustic covers of American country songs, both old and new. Ryan Russell of Augusta will play soul, hip-hop and some Frank Sinatra tunes.

The decision to have a Jeans & Bling event was the brainchild of former United Way of White County Board President James Horton.

“He had heard about this event that the United Way of Central Arkansas was doing with craft beer and a silent auction,” Eldridge said. “We were not doing anything like that at the time. We had not been doing any community events like this. No one was doing the craft-beer tasting like that in our area.

“We decided to do it. Last year, it went wonderfully. We were so pleased with the response. Everyone who attended had such a wonderful time.”

The craft beers available for taste-testing include Rockhound IPA, Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan, Lost Forty Easy Tiger, Boulevard Wheat and New Belgium Abbey.

Beer connoisseur Blake Schrepher of Searcy will talk about the various beers.

“Last year, I got a man out of Little Rock,” Eldridge said. “Blake is someone I know through church. He is very interested in beer, and craft beer is his deal. He really has so much knowledge about how they are brewed and the differences in that. I thought it would be a great fit.”

Schrepher said he became a beer connoisseur while he was in graduate school at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, which is close to Lexington.

“Part of the tourism in Lexington is the bourbon trail, but they also have a thriving craft-beer scene,” Schrepher said. “I just started gathering with some friends in those places and talking about school, and it just took off from there.”

Schrepher is the youth minister at Searcy First United Methodist Church.

“Anne told me I could come up with my own theme,” he said. “I got more excited when she told me I had free rein.”

Eldridge said everyone is invited to Jeans & Bling.

“This is open to the public,” she said. “Jeans are part of the theme. It’s completely acceptable attire. It’s a fun, relaxing event. You don’t have to go buy some new outfit to attend.”

For more information about Jeans & Bling, call the United Way of White County at (501) 268-7489 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/unitedwaywhitecounty.

Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or mbuffalo@arkansasonline.com.

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