Judy Thorburn | Editor in Chief | Writer | ColumnistJudy Thorburn's 'Vegas Happenings' column

By Judy Thorburn This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock

Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance

House of DIFFA Las Vegas Hosted Exclusive Preview at Neiman Marcus Spring Fashion Show  To Benefit HIV/AIDS Nonprofits

DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) Las Vegas, a local chapter of the national DIFFA organization, hosted an exclusive preview of its December show, in partnership with Neiman Marcus, at Fashion Show Mall, Thursday night, February 9. The event included Neiman Marcus spring trends; a raffle fundraiser; signature drinks by Barefoot Wine and Gas Monkey Tequila; and a display of pieces by HOUSE OF DIFFA designer, Jim McCoy. Nearly $7,000 was raised to support local HIV/AIDS organizations in Las Vegas, which included a $5,000 donation from sponsor, Neiman Marcus.

HOD Designer Jim McCoy with piece
HOUSE OF DIFFA designer Jim McCoy with piece
Photo credit: Gene Boothe

Neiman Marcus fashion show models
Neiman Marcus fashion show models
Photo credit: Gene Boothe

Amanda Kouretas Robin Leach and Leslie Frisbee
Robin Leach with HOUSE OF DIFFA style ambassadors Amanda Kouretas and Leslie Frisbee
Photo credit: Gene Boothe

A celebration of fashion, design and philanthropy, DIFFA is one of the largest and most successful service organizations in raising funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Since its formation in 1984, DIFFA has raised over $41 million to support hundreds of HIV/AIDS organizations.

Themed “Eden,” HOUSE OF DIFFA will bring together live performance, art and music for a high-fashion spectacular that tells the story of love, lust and temptation in Las Vegas. HOUSE OF DIFFA will feature pieces from local and regional designers, including: Stitched inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas; Las Vegas-based Vasari at Tivoli Village; Dee Berkley of Dee Berkley Jewelry; San Diego-based GRACEDBYGRIT; and Reyna Herrera, Mina Kahn, Paul Redman, Joseph Charles Poli, Crystal Ball, Jim McCoy, Jeffrey deBarathy and Brenton Coon.

Funds raised from HOUSE OF DIFFA will benefit local nonprofit organizations including: AIDS Healthcare Foundation, The Center, Golden Rainbow, Huntridge Family Clinic, Community Counseling Center of Southern Nevada, St. Therese Center and The Sin Sity Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

DIFFA Las Vegas flaunts a prominent line-up of style council ambassadors, an accomplished group of community, business and civic leaders committed to raising funds and awareness of behalf of Las Vegas HIV/AIDS service organizations. Style council ambassadors include: Leslie Frisbee, editor-in-chief of Luxury Las Vegas; Lynn Weidner, chairman of the Miss America board of directors; Jerry Metellus, legendary photographer; and Amanda Kouretas, former Mrs. Nevada America.

Cody Fredrickson and Gary Schneck Create Best Tequila Cocktails in Vegas

Regional bartenders tested their luck to compete in the 2017 Road to the Hacienda Challenge, sponsored by Tequila Herradura, on February 3, where Cody Fredrickson and Gary Schneck’s original tequila cocktail recipes were named the best in Las Vegas. In addition to creating their own version of the original Horseshoe Margarita, participating bartenders were tasked with creating and presenting a twist on a classic cocktail made with Tequila Herradura. The Road to the Hacienda Challenge, a national cocktail competition conducted by Liquor.com and the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG), allows bartenders across the country to showcase their creativity and expertise through uniquely-crafted tequila cocktails. Tuesday’s event saw 10 entries from the area.

Cody Fredrickson with Judges
Cody Fredrickson with Judges

Gary Schneck
Gary Schneck

Homestead Margarita3
Homestead Margarita

Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire

After beating out their competitors at the regional level, Fredrickson and Schneck will move on to the next round of the competition, where they will compete with winning bartenders from the seven other participating markets.  As finalists, Fredrickson and Schneck will be given an all-expense paid trip to historic Casa Herradura, the last true tequila-producing hacienda on the planet, where they will compete in the national finale. Using the finest ingredients, including local fruit variants sourced directly from the grounds of the Casa, finalists will have the opportunity to create a truly original Tequila Herradura-inspired cocktail for the chance to win it all. During the trip, bartenders will also experience a VIP distillery tour, receive brand education and training, as well as explore popular and historic Mexico attractions.

“It felt amazing to be able to compete with such talented and passionate bartenders here in Vegas,” Fredrickson said. “I felt fortunate to be able to present such a personal cocktail to the judges and have it so well received. Vegas is full of amazing bartenders, all of whom work very hard to be this lucky.”

Frederickson’s winning cocktail was inspired by his earliest memories of taste, when he learned to appreciate the bitterness of grapefruit and coffee as his parents did. Schneck’s winning cocktail was inspired by adventurous hiking trips and memorable experiences in the desert.

“Chase your dreams, and craft your reality,” Schneck said.

Additional recent and upcoming “happenings” in and around Las Vegas include:

To help Americans find the cities with the greatest number and variety of cheap, fun activities, the number crunchers from the personal-finance website WalletHub compared the 150 largest cities across 51 key metrics, ranging from “number of fitness centers per capita” to “movie costs” to “average open hours of breweries.” and has rated LAS VEGAS as 2016’s MOST FUN CITY IN AMERICA.

Fine Art Photographer ANDREW FEILER debuted his dual collection, “NATURALLY NEVADA” and “THE WILD WORLD,” on Wednesday, Feb. 15 from 5-7 p.m at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, 900 N. Las Vegas Blvd.  The duel collection will be on display thru March 31.

Promising an ongoing collision of the best of America’s tastes and tunes, FREEDOM BEAT at the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino is introducing their newest music and food program: THE GIBSON BISCUITS AND JAM SESSIONS set to take the stage every Monday night from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m. Officially launching Monday, Feb. 20, the open-stage/mic night provides the unique opportunity for local artists to jam on the Freedom Beat stage and for music lovers to mix and mingle with some of Las Vegas’ best musicians. With Gibson hosting and providing the instruments for the night, local and touring musicians can plug-in and play or choose to shred with their own instrument of choice as Chef Scott Commings offers up his  Late Night Biscuit & Cocktail Menu featuring Chicken & Biscuits, Smothered Pot Roast Biscuit, Biscuits & Gravy and His Famed Biscuits & Jam. Sign-ups for Biscuits and Jam Sessions are first come, first served at Freedom Beat. Performance time will vary based on number of acts and musicians.

CYCLEBAR HENDERSON will hold a CycleBlast to celebrate the grand opening by offering 50 free classes over 10 days. From Feb. 23 through March 4, new and experienced riders interested in CycleBar can register to take as many classes as they wish during the CycleBlast. Registration is required.

In celebration of 500 awe-inspiring performances of MAGIC REINVENTED NIGHTLY at The Linq Hotel & Casino, magician MAT FRANCO is joining the ranks of resident performers like Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Donny and Marie, and others with his very own larger-than-life-sized building wrap on The Strip. The 7 p.m. performance on Saturday, Feb. 25 will mark the production’s 500th performance at The LINQ since opening in Aug. 2015.

Stand-up comic BENJI BROWN will bring the laughs to Access Showroom inside Aliante Casino + Hotel + Spa on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets start at $30.50 plus tax and fees, and luxury booths are also available. Guests must be 21 or older.

The Direct Cellars Wine Club is launching its first annual “DC UNCORKED” – a social, high-energy wine tasting and concert without the pretentiousness. This inaugural year will feature an incredible live performance from BETTER THEN EZRA and special guests at The Joint on Saturday, February 25. Concert tickets and wine tasting packages are available for purchase. The wine tasting packages will include access to tasting tables from over 40 hand-picked wineries spread throughout The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, while Better Than Ezra fans can also enjoy entry tickets that do not include the wine tasting. Concert tickets and “Uncorked!” wine tasting packages are on sale now. All attendees must be 21 years of age or older with valid ID.

More than 30 teen girls and boys from area high schools will be celebrated for their community service by participating in a SPECIAL RUNWAY SHOW at Downtown Summerlin wearing fashions by Dillard’s, on Saturday, February 25 at 2 p.m.   The teens, along with their mothers, are members of the National Charity League (NCL) and Young Men’s Service League (YMSL) Las Vegas Chapters and have collectively performed thousands of hours of community service at dozens of non-profit organizations in our community.  NCL’s mission is to promote volunteerism, cultivate leadership and provide an opportunity for mothers and teen daughters to forge a bond through service.  YMSL, established in Texas, encourages young men and their mothers to improve their relationship by pursuing philanthropic opportunities in their community  The show is FREE to the public with special reserved seating for NCL and YMSL members. The runway show is provided by Downtown Summerlin and its owner, The Howard Hughes Corporation®, to showcase the good works of outstanding teens in our community.

 CSN Fine Arts Theatre Program presents an original musical comedy called WE'RE HERE FOR YOU: THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE MUSICAL. CSN’s Professor of Choral Studies, Mark Wherry, who co-wrote the book and Lyrics with Natalie Shipman explains,  “The production is funny, witty, and a little edgy, while still taking a serious, but light hearted look at the issues students and faculty members encounter in the learning environment of a community college.”  Performances are March 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, at 7:00 pm with a matinee scheduled on March 5th at 2:00 pm in the BackStage Theatre located at the North Las Vegas campus at the College of Southern Nevada. General admission tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. The CSN Performing Arts Center is located at 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave. in North Las Vegas.

MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL celebrates 11 years in Las Vegas with the return of guest star CINDY WILLIAMS at Harrahs Las Vegas, March 6 thru May 29. Menopause The Musical® in Las Vegas is the longest-running scripted musical in Las Vegas history and has played almost 5,000 performances in the city. Show times are Monday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., as well as an additional 4 p.m. matinee each Saturday and Monday. Tickets start at $52.95. Locals can reserve the mid-level ticket for $34.95 with the code MMLOCAL. Additional fees may apply.

Seven years into his immensely successful run as a regular comedic headliner at TI, BILL ENGVALL  makes a pit stop at the Treasure Island Theatre for NASCAR weekend, Friday, March 10 at 9 p.m.  Tickets start at $59.95, plus taxes and service charges.

Former lead singer of the rock group Foreigner, LOU FRAMM, will bring his signature vocals to Access Showroom at Aliante Casino + Hotel + Spa on Saturday, March 11. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets start at $49.50 plus tax and fees, and luxury booths are also available. Guests 21 or older may purchase tickets.

Sisters Kellie Dooley and Allison Gharst are bringing their San Diego-based QUEEN BEE MARKET to The Conference Center of Las Vegas on Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11. The popular urban-style handmade market is feminine and fun, hosting vendors who make their products by hand from booths that are designed with flair. “If you love shopping for gifts on sites like Etsy, then Queen Bee Market is for you,” said Dooley. “It’s truly like Etsy comes to life.” “Thousands of incredible, handmade creations that you would typically have to scour the internet for are all on display in one fun, high-energy market where you can see the pieces firsthand,” added Gharst.  This will be the 20th Queen Bee Market since the festival was created in 2010, and the first that will be held in Las Vegas.   Tickets will be priced at $5 per person and will be available for purchase at the door. Children 12 years old and younger and military with ID receive FREE entry. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a local non-profit organization.

Ahead of its debut in Las Vegas, Queen Bee Market will also host a CRAFT NIGHT, held at The Conference Center of Las Vegas from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 9. The Craft Night will feature a night of food, drinks and crafting, featuring celebrity guest crafters including: Kristin Smith of Las Vegas-based BB Frösch and Oregon-based vendor, Details 2 Enjoy. Materials for the Craft Night will be sponsored by successful designer and female entrepreneur, Heidi Swapp. Tickets to the Queen Bee Craft Night are priced at $85.

STARBUCKS is now open at Bellagio Resort & Casio. The venue is located near the Las Vegas Boulevard entrance to Via Bellagio.

SERENITY SPA is now open to the public at Westgate las Vegas Resort & Casino. Located on the third floor pool deck Serenity Spa by Westgate offers a sophisticated menu of world-class massages, facials, body treatments, nail services and more.

BRIGHTSIDE – BREAKFAST & BURGERS is opening March 3 at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas.The new eatery will offer guests a delicious dining experience reminiscent of an authentic New York style deli with traditional breakfast items, specialty and made-to-order sandwiches, burgers, and salads served all day long.

Global hospitality company has announced that Friday, March 10 will mark the start of the highly anticipated 2017 pool season at WET REPUBLIC at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, LIQUID Pool Lounge at ARIA Resort & Casino and Bare Pool Lounge at The Mirage Hotel & Casino. To kick off what is sure to be an unforgettable summer, each daytime hot spot will host special grand opening events in April welcoming poolgoers to soak up the sun while enjoying performances by some of the world’s most renowned DJs. Adding to the excitement WET REPUBLIC will host a special celebration to kick off the iconic pool’s milestone anniversary, marking 10 seasons as the daylife destination.

Celebrity sightings:

Thursday night, February 16...

Sacramento Kings player Willie Cauley-Stein was spotted at TAO Nightclub in The Venetian. The NBA star took in Worship Thursday with friends at a VIP table as Justin Credible manned the decks. 

Wednesday night, February 15...

WWE stars Sasha Banks, Summer Rae and EMMA enjoyed dinner at LAVO Italian Restaurant in The Palazzo.

Monday night, February 13...

WWE superstars Sasha Banks, Summer Rae and EMMA were spotted at Marquee Nightclub in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The ladies took in the party as Tritonal manned the decks for Marquee Mondays.

Saturday, February 11...

Former professional gridiron football player and sports commentator Joe Theismann was spotted attending the 8 p.m. performance of the raucous hit show Absinthe at Caesars Palace. Following the show, Theismann stayed to take a photo with the full cast of outlandish characters.

Joe Theismann Attends ABSINTHE at Caesars Palace 2.11.17 2
Joe Theismann Attends ABSINTHE at Caesars Palace
Photo courtesy of Joseph Sanders/Spiegelworld

Friday night, Feb. 10...

Actress and Disney XD star Kelli Berglund was spotted attending the 10 p.m. performance of the raucous hit show ABSINTHE at Caesars Palace. Berglund, along with five friends, attended the show as part of the actress’ 21st birthday festivities in Las Vegas. Following the show, Berglund met with ABSINTHE’s emcee, The Gazillionaire, and his assistant Wanda Widdles to take photos and to share her enthusiasm for the performance.

Actress Kelli Berglund Celebrates 21st Birthday at ABSINTHE in Las Vegas 2.10.17 2
Actress Kelli Berglund Celebrates 21st Birthday at ABSINTHE in Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of Joseph Sanders/Spiegelworld

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