August 06, 2008

Mystery dinner brings big bucks to playground project

By Rachel Warner Blosser

Our best fundraiser to date has been a murder mystery dinner called "Montana Marie Gets Gunned Down at 3!"

Many participants wore their best western apparel for the event. The performers greeted the guests in character at the "chili bar." Following their western buffet dinner of pulled pork, barbecue ribs and chicken, the show began. With props, sound effects and tremendous ad-libbing, the performers presented the show while interacting with the dinner guests. The guests kept track of various clues throughout the show, and prior to intermission, the audience was given the opportunity to question the cast and determine the murderer and motive. After intermission, the murderer was revealed, and prizes were given to the super sleuth who figured out "whodunit" as well as the best-dressed cowboy and cowgirl.

We had a great silent auction, prize raffle, a live auction for Steelers tickets and Disney tickets, and a 50/50 raffle, where people purchase tickets to win half the money in the pot (the other half goes toward the project). Our 50/50 raffle winner donated the winnings back to parks and recreation.

How we did it
Dinner tickets were sold for $20 each and the profit from the event was $5,000.

We found the performers online at They were terrific!

Our expenses included the hall rental, the cost to hire the entertainers, and the food and drinks, though our committee got most of the food donated or purchased at cost. Donation requests for everything from food to raffle items were mailed out several months in advance of the event. In addition, personal visits to our local restaurants garnered their support for the event. We were also sure to send thank you's to ensure people's continued support.

Our next fundraiser
People still talk about the Murder Mystery Dinner and ask when the next one is scheduled. We are already in full swing to make this year's fundraiser dinner a success. This year we want to fill the hall to capacity for "Mobster, Molls and Marinara." The fire hall will be turned into a gin joint set in the roaring ‘20s!

Rachel Warner Blosser has been the Secretary-Treasurer and elected tax collector for Cross Creek Township, Penn. for eight years and serves as chairman of the parks & recreation committee. She is a leader for the Cross Creek 4H group and has two teenage children.