published Friday, January 16th, 2009

Tennessee, Georgian societies sponsoring inaugural balls in D.C.

by Herman Wang

WASHINGTON — Tennesseans and Georgians in town for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration can revel with some of their own Tuesday night, with each state society putting on its own black-tie ball.

This will the first time in recent history that the Tennessee and Georgia state societies are putting on inaugural balls, and organizers for both said the high interest generated by President-elect Obama’s inauguration, expected to draw millions to Washington, D.C. has made ticket sales brisk.

“We’re excited that we’re at the growth stage of our club where we can throw a party like this,” said Jill Bader, president of the Tennessee State Society. “We’re getting a lot of folks coming up from Tennessee, and we’ll also be having a lot of Tennesseans who work here.”

Each state has a nonpartisan society based in Washington that aims to foster camaraderie among state natives now living in the capital.

Tickets to the Tennessee ball, to be held at The City Tavern Club in Georgetown, are $130 for individuals and $250 for couples, while the Georgia State Society’s ball at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum costs $200 per person.

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Tickets are still available for both balls.

“We’ve had a good response from Georgians who are down in the state, as well as folks in D.C. who are from Georgia or have Georgia connections,” said Sheridan Watson, president of the Georgia State Society.

Ms. Bader said she expects about 400 attendees to the Tennessee ball, and Ms. Watson said between 800 to 1,000 are expected for the Georgia ball.

Lawmakers from each state are expected to attend as well.

“We’re not only going to be honoring the president and vice president by having a ball but also thanking our entire delegation, both Democrats and Republicans, that are serving our state,” Ms. Bader said.

Both balls will feature live entertainment and state-inspired menus. The menu for the Georgia ball, for instance, includes plenty of peanuts, pecans, Vidalia onions and, of course, peaches.

The Tennessee ball will serve Jack Daniels whiskey, barbecue and other comfort foods.

“Our band has guaranteed they’ll play ‘Rocky Top,’ so we’re set,” Ms. Bader said.

The Tennessee State Society will use proceeds from its ball to fund other member events throughout the year, while the Georgia State Society is donating its proceeds to the Alexandria, Va.-based Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

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