Foaling barn stalls will become exquisite dining areas at the Woodford Humane Society's 11th annual Freedom Fest.
The two-day celebration — which will be at Lori and George Hall's Annestes Farms, just west of Versailles — has area designers and decorators transforming the stalls for the fund-raiser that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by local chefs; a raffle and silent auction; dancing to the music of Triple Play; and breakfast under a tent with guest speaker Jon Carloftis, a noted garden designer.
If the Annestes Farms name rings a bell, perhaps it's because it ran two Kentucky Derby entries in 2009, Atomic Rain and West Side Bernie.
Debbie Graviss, an artist, and humane society board member Susan Adams began Freedom Fest 11 years ago. Together, they've found a way to make fund-raising fun, encouraging hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life to help.
When Graviss asked, Jennifer Wilson of Wilson Nurseries pitched in with horticultural expertise and stayed on as the event grew.
"It's who we are," she said. "I bring my dogs to work with me. The reason we became involved is that we're all pet lovers, so I have a heart for it."
If you ask collaborating designers Greg Hofelich of Working Eye Design Consultants and Suzanne Grable of Suzanne Designs why they have participated for more than six years, they'll say it's addictive.
Grable, whose father owned Drury's Saddlery in Harrodsburg, grew up with horses, playing in hackney pony stalls and pretending they were rooms to decorate.
"It was a fantasy," she says, adding, "Little did I know I'd grow up and do this in real life." She and Hofelich are designing a stall this year that incorporates delicately painted Asian paper umbrellas with a vintage lantern; draped silk; an intricately woven reed figure of a capybara; and an antique, copper-topped surgeon's table discovered in Midway, set with chinoiserie cache pots depicting frolicking, parasol-toting figures. Diners who reserve the stall will find their table set with amethyst glass plates.
"This is an opportunity to show your vision and what you can do," says Hofelich.
On Friday morning, there will be an opportunity to tour the farm and the transformed stalls at a "meet-and-greet" with the designers.
Proceeds for the event have allowed the Woodford Humane Society, which provides care for about 200 animals, to build a facility that has space to quarantine newly arrived animals, a separate ventilation system for cat rooms to help prevent the spread of airborne diseases and laundry facilities so animals can rest on bedding instead of bare concrete.
"All of us look forward to a day when we come in and all the animals have been adopted," public relations director Sandy Davis says.