dsc_7994“By far and away”, this year’s “Where The Wild Things Are” Soiree at Adie and Beatrice von Gontard’s Oxbow Farm in Front Royal was “the most successful gala event held over the past five years” reports a very happy Franny Crawford, Director of Development at the Center.

Hosts Adie and Beatrice von Gontard, ardent environmentalists, welcomed a packed attendance and described their love of wildlife and how they rotated their fields to grow hay varieties and foster habitat. Stewardship at its finest.

Greeting guests were a pair of Budweiser Clydesdales, “Vegas” and “Austin”, and a beautiful mare quietly being held by the farm staff. During cocktails, guests were able to get close up to the Wildlife Ambassadors: “Briar Rose”, a Red-tailed Hawk; “Lucy”, a Red-Shouldered Hawk; “Snow”, an Arctic Fox; and “Beeker,” a Striped Skunk. “Jefferson”, an American Bald Eagle, was back at home.

The highlight of the evening was to watch the release of a great horned owl. Yellow eyes as big as quarters, he was originally found as an owlet small enough to put in your hand. Now old enough to begin his journey, evidenced by the chirping and nipping at its handler’s leather mitt, he was ready to be released and off he flew. With plenty of mice in the fields, the von Gontard’s might just see him again.

A harvest moon above breathtaking views from the hill on Oxbow Farm inspired a very enthusiastic gathering of wildlife lovers to support the expansion of the facility: the new Wildlife Walk and Raptor Hill, a series of animal enclosures for the raptors.

You couldn’t find a more entertaining and ambitious auctioneer in Australian Matt Cahir who performed admirably to entice bidders in the live auction items. Among them were a tour of Grant’s Farm, an Oxbow Farm Birding and Picnic, a Plein Air Painting Class, and a beautiful painting by artist Anthony Barham which graced the invitation cover.

“We were pleased to be able to put the focus on our Education Ambassadors and their special housing needs” Franny said. “Further, our audience really resonated with our mission of helping our native wildlife and teaching our children to appreciate the delicate balance between needs in nature and the needs of man. Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Bradley were honored for their leadership gift in creating the Ronald M. Bradley Learning Center. Their generosity set the tone for the evening and inspired spirited bidding throughout the crowd. They have been extremely generous and we are most grateful to them for all their support.”

The Center is the region’s only wildlife hospital and education center serving the Northern Shenandoah Valley, the Piedmont, and beyond. The annual event will provide funds for the completion of new facility and annual operations of the Center.