“by Tanja Staben”
In November, Rocky Mountain College hosted its 32nd annual Black Tie Blue Jeans Scholarship Benefit.
In 1987, this event started as the “Rocky Mountain Roundup,” a unique fundraising event that received great support from area ranchers and cattlemen. Ranchers donated livestock that were registered by Rocky ́s own brand “RMR” – for Rocky Mountain Roundup. According to the RMC website, “College volunteers rounded up the RMR-branded cattle and trucked them to the public auction yard where they were judged and sold.”
The modern version of Black Tie Blue Jeans started to evolve in 1990. The cattle roundup became a silent and live auction.
Throughout the decades, the goal of this fundraising event has been to raise money for student scholarships. This year, the fundraising goal was $550,000. The good news is that this goal was accomplished, but even better news is that “we exceeded this goal by $25,000,” stated Jennifer McCalla.
McCalla was in charge of Black Tie Blue Jeans. She evaluated this year ́s event in a positive way. “We had a wonderful, hard-working, cohesive team,” said McCalla. “We really strived to thank our donors and attendees. Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to provide over $14 million in scholar- ships per year. We are so lucky to have students who are willing to help and volunteer their time. They really are the stars of the event and the guests love to see them.”
Approximately 120 volunteers were involved. “Their duties ranged from valet, coat check, serving, greeters, silent auction staging, silent auction committee, event chairs, moving tables, hanging gossamer, checkout, bartenders and flowers,” explained McCalla.
Most students helped from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. as servers. They were split up in different groups with experienced student team leads. They provided each guest with dinner and water, and they took care of dishes and requests. The student volunteers know how important this event is for the entire Rocky community, that their help is needed, and that students should not take their scholarships for granted.
The Scholarship Benefit has different sources of income. One of them is admission tickets. McCalla gave more details by stating, “Individual tickets were $125. Table sponsorships went from $1,500, $3,000, $5,000, up to $10,000.” Another way to raise money was through the silent and live auction. Things like boats, artwork, trips, jewelry, furniture, and a dirt bike were offered at the auctions.
The biggest donations of the evening were $30,000 from First Interstate Bank and $125,000 Endowment in honor of Randy Scott from the First Interstate BancSystem.
Even though the fundraising evening “went better than expected,” McCalla is always ready for change. “There is always room for improvement. We would love to have automatic bidding.”
Big events like Rocky’s Black Tie Blue Jeans require a lot of time and effort from a wide range of people. That is why McCalla and her team started planning the 2019 Scholarship Benefit in April. However, it seems the effort was worth it. Not only did they exceed the fundraising goal, everything went as planned and Jennifer McCalla is happy overall.
Now there are a couple of months until they start figuring out the 33rd annual Black Tie Blue Jeans Scholarship Benefit that is going to take place on Nov. 6, 2020.