Have fun helping Eric Saturday

Published 12:03 am Friday, April 6, 2012

A “Help Eric” fundraising event will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Vidalia Riverfront for the benefit of Natchez burn Victim Eric Barbato.

Eric lost almost everything when his house on State Street burned early on the morning of Feb. 13 of this year. According to the Natchez Fire Chief he was “very lucky” to have escaped with his life.

Eric was badly burned during the fire and suffered severe smoke inhalation. He spent six weeks in a Mississippi Burn Unit, three of them in a coma.

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This resulted in extremely high medical bills, and he had no health insurance. Eric’s home on State Street was destroyed and very few of his possessions were recovered. He is currently staying with a friend, and other friends have collected donations to help him replace a few personal items and clothing. At this time Eric has no permanent residence and will need to eventually replace his furniture, dishes and other household items.

Many Natchezians know Eric from his work at the Castle and Belk. He was also a favorite at Natchez Little Theatre appearing in “Hairspray,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and other Natchez favorites. Others may know him from karaoke nights at various local venues where he was also a crowd favorite.

The fun begins at 10 a.m. with an Easter egg hunt (one for children 5 and under, one for children aged 6 through 12). The entry fee for the Easter egg hunt is $2 per child and there will be prize eggs — some with money inside!

Admission for all the following activities is a $10 donation; for children that includes face painting, balloon bust, goldfish toss, a space jumper and go fishing. Children’s activities are open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For the entire family there will be other events such as a dunking booth and pie throw (wait and see who shows up on the receiving end of these two events)! Game tickets will be $1 each. There will be a cake walk — and if you don’t want to do the walk there will be a bake sale featuring home baked items from the area’s best bakers.

The event will also include two Silent Auctions which contain dozens of items donated by local merchants and artists (including a valuable print donated by Roland Golden.)

The items range from small to large and vary in price from $10-$1,000. They include the precious (prints, pottery etc. from local artists; jewelry; decorative items) to the practical (oil changes, manicures and a leather office chair.)

The silent auctions will also offer many gift certificates from your favorite local restaurants, stylists, florists, etc. The first silent auction will be from noon to 2:30 p.m., and the second from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The food will be fabulous! Sodas, crawfish, shrimp and barbecue chicken plates (1/2 chicken, potato salad and baked beans.) The barbecue plates are $7 and can be delivered. Or they may be picked up by drive-through without entering the event. Call 318-719-1717 or 769-355-9033 to order. Pre-ordering is recommended.

Get ready to laugh at 6 p.m. — the very first Miss River Barge all male pageant will begin.

Sorry ladies, it is not your legs we want to see! But get your guy in heels and a dress and perhaps you can take home the newly crowned Miss River Barge of 2012! No cosmetics or wigs allowed — and don’t remove your beard or shave your legs guys. Just show up as you are — except for the dress of course! Changing rooms available.

The fundraiser audience will vote with their dollars and the guy who raises the most money will be the first Miss River Barge and take home a prize as well.

Winner receives a two-night stay at the Isle of Capri Hotel and two dinners at the casino restaurant.

Five of the area’s best bands are donating their time and talent. Mojo Mudd will kick off the musical events followed by Blue Haired Mafia, Backroads Band, Apostle’s Creed and Framing the Red. The bands will play in this order and for approximately an hour and a half.

There will be an area to collect household items for those who wish to donate the items directly rather than monetarily. Puppy and dog items are welcome also. Shortly before the fire Eric had lost one of his dearly loved dogs when she ran into the street and was hit by a car.

After that he adopted a new puppy, Rita, from the animal shelter. He had her for only a week when she perished in the fire. Fortunately his older dog was rescued from the fire along with Eric.

So come on out Natchez and Vidalia!

Support a worthy cause and have a great time too by attending the “Help Eric” fundraiser extravaganza!


Steve Davis is an organizer of Saturday’s fundraiser for Eric Barbato.