Payson paparazzi alert! Celebrities are congregating at Fargo's Steakhouse this week.
The third annual "Dining with Celebrities" benefit for the Mogollon Health Alliance is Friday, Jan. 23. Funds raised go to health education programs, such as the nurse training at Gila Community College and scholarships for those entering health-related fields of study. Applications for the MHA scholarships are already available, and can be obtained through April, call (928) 472-2588 for more information.
"We wanted to do something different so we decided to ask people known in the community to dress up as their favorite celebrities," said Judy Baker of MHA, who is coordinating the event.
It takes about six months to get "Dining with Celebrities" set up. Baker said they have always had a good response from the community, both from people wanting to dress up and serve and those who want to buy tickets for the dinner.
Tickets are $50 per person and are going fast. Fargo's will be closed for the evening to accommodate the event and there is seating for 88. An early seating is at 5:30 p.m. and the second seating is at 7:30 p.m. Baker said people can still get a place at the bar, but it will still cost $50 to get in the door.
In the past, the event has brought in between $10,000 and $15,000 for MHA.
The cost doesn't include tips for the "celebrity" servers.
"They compete for prizes," Baker said. The top male and female tip collectors each receive watches donated by Robert Higginbotham of Payson Jewelers.
The servers are also in a contest for best tip jar, Baker said, and there is even a booby prize for the server who collects the fewest tips.
Participating as servers this year are Ed Bryan, Julie Ruttle, Sandee and Jack Koon, Vicki and Will E. Dietz, Joy Richards, Robert Higginbotham, Nicole McCorgary, Kim Jim and Judy Baker. Joy and Jeff Sievert, owners of Fargo's Steakhouse, and some of their staff, will also be in celebrity regalia.
"Joy and Jeff are giving us a great deal," Baker said. "They have been so wonderful."
Baker said the "celebrities" being represented by the servers include The Temptations, "Hawkeye" Pierce of M*A*S*H fame, Madonna, Christina Aguilar, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson, Judge Judy and -- yes -- Elvis will be in the building.
But it will be up to the dinner guests to guess which Rim country resident is which celebrity, Baker said.
Those attending the 5:30 seating can go into the bar to make room for the 7:30 seating.
"No one wants to leave because they're having so much fun," Baker said.
In addition to the fun with the "celebrities" the evening will be rounded out with music from D.J. Craig.
"He is going to provide music to match the celebrities so they can sing and dance and entertain," Baker said. There will also be music for the guests to dance to and enjoy.
Doors open for the early seating at 5 p.m. and the 7:30 p.m. seating will begin a 7:15 p.m., she said.
The menu for the evening includes a choice of prime rib, honey baked fresh salmon or honey citrus chicken, with garlic mashed potatoes or wild rice pilaf, plus a salad, rolls, fresh vegetables, dessert, coffee, soda or iced tea. There will also be a no-host bar for the evening, Baker said.
"We just want everyone to come to have fun and enjoy themselves," she said.