Attendees of the 10th annual Zoobilee will take a walk on the wild side Sept. 19.

For the first time ever, the fund raising event will be held at the Frank Buck Zoo, 1000 E. California Street.

Originally held in Lindsay at the Centennial Hall and then more recently at the Gainesville Civic Center, the Frank Buck Zoological Society board of directors have been talking about moving the event to the zoo for several years.

Fears of rain had been a concern in the past, however Karen Cook, a board of director member, said the Zoological board has decided to chance the weather in hopes of reacquainting local citizens with the zoo.

“When we moved the Zoobilee to the Gainesville Civic Center, that gave it a new spark and brought everyone closer together,” said Cook. “We always tried to decorate the Civic Center like the zoo, so we thought what better way then to just hold the event at the zoo.”

A board member for all 10 Zoobilees, Cook said she is especially excited for this year’s event, rain or shine.

“We’ll get over the fear of the rain,” said Cook. “We’re coming up with a backup plan and will provide tents over all the food vendors and drink stations, just in case.”

This year’s Zoobilee will begin at 6 p.m. and will feature area food vendors: Karen Wade, Sarah’s on the Square, Dieter Brothers, The Center, Fischers, Rumpys, Backstage Cafe, Sunset Rendezvous and Wint’s Catering.

Unlike previous Zoobilees, this year’s event will be much more casual. There will not be a sit down meal, but instead not attendees will walk up to each vendor, located throughout the zoo, and will be served quarter-sized portions of local treats.

Attendees are asked to come in dressy casual attire including fun, summer dresses for the ladies and nice shorts for the men. No sport coats or ties are required.

From 6-7:30 p.m., attendees will have the chance to walk around the entire zoo and go out on the African Savannah to feed the giraffes.

“In the past, people came to the Zoobilee or joined the Zoological Society and never came to the zoo,” said Cook. “We’re hoping this will open some eyes. We’ve talked to lots of local people who said they haven’t gone to the zoo since they were in high school because they either don’t think about it or don’t have a reason to go.

I think it will be very important for those people to come to the Zoobilee this year, who haven’t seen the zoo in a long time. I think they’ll be surprised with how different it looks.”

One new addition Zoobilee attendees will get to view is the new bobcat exhibit. Party goers will also get to meet VIP guests: Nola and Brighton, two female East Texas Black Bears who reside at the zoo.

Currently, the two bears live in a 400 square feet exhibit. The Zoological Society is currently working towards building a new bear exhibit and proceeds raised from the Zoobilee will go towards the exhibit.

Attendees will be greeted to the zoo by safari type music and will, later in the evening, enjoy dancing to the sounds of the Wonders Band.

Nancy Moore, president of the Zoological Society, said she and other board members are hoping this year’s Zoobilee will draw the biggest crowd ever.

“We’re expecting it to be a lot of fun and it’s something new for us,” said Moore. “It’s just really exciting and we hope it will grow from here.”

The event will include an open bar and open seating. A special cocktail is currently being concocted especially for the event by an area vendor, added Cook.

A silent auction will be held along with a raffle. Items purchased by an anonymous donor to be raffled at the event include: a set of his and her watches from Wiese’s and a beautiful diamond pendant with 30 diamonds from Kinne’s.

Tickets are $50 and must be purchased in advance. They can be purchased at First State Bank or from Zoological Society board members. Reserved seating is also available. For more information, contact Cook at 668-4314 or Moore at 665-0214.

For more information about Frank Buck Zoo and other upcoming events, visit www.frankbuckzoo.com or call 668-4533

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