Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice held its annual rendition of Boot Scootin' Boogie Sept. 23.
Approximately 130 cowboys and cowgirls attended the fundraiser at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church. Having the country-style gala at the Lakewood Ranch church was a first for the Catholic Charities organization. The event was previously held at the Kings Gate Golf Club in Port Charlotte for 22 years.
After the venue shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boots and Bandanas was on hiatus. When they brought it back, CEO Eddie Gloria said they wanted to try moving the benefit to the Lakewood Ranch area.
Catholic Charities serves 10 counties, but money raised from Boots and Bandanas will be used for services in DeSoto, Highlands and Hardee counties.
"Whatever we collect here will support the efforts that we put out in those areas, which involves a food pantry for families who are food insecure, after school programming, financial assistance, hurricane relief and housing for the elderly," Gloria said. "We also have 110 units of housing for migrant worker families, as well. It's called our Casa San Juan Bosco Housing, which is in Arcadia."
Born and raised in Arcadia, musician Andy Pursell and his band performed country music at the event. Silent auction items lined both sides of the ballroom, and Mission BBQ set up a plentiful buffet.
Arcadia resident Wendy Hunter said she has been attending Boots and Bandanas for as long as she can remember, and her head-to-toe cowgirl gear was no more than her everyday clothes.
This year, she was in the company of her coworkers. Their employer, Fish Branch Tree Farm, bought a table.
"We're happy that all these people came out, and we're loving the fact that we can wear these boots and bandanas and make it a fun night," Gloria said.