by Keith Loria
In 2012, Opus for Person-to-Person held a fund-raiser known as The Big Rig Gig, a children’s touch-a-truck event, where hundreds of area kids would come out and get to play in some “cool looking” trucks.
Three years ago, the event was reinvented into a more adult-friendly, casual outdoor party, and the name transitioned to The Bigger Rig Gig.
“Even though it’s completely different, they wanted to keep the name and have some association between the two fund-raisers,” said Cameron Sokolik, board liaison for Opus for Person-to-Person. “Even though it’s geared to adults and in the evening, it’s still out on the field and there’s hay, and they felt there was enough connection to keep the name similar.”
This year’s The Bigger Rig Gig will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., at Ox Ridge Field in Darien, and jeans and boots are expected.
“I think the parents definitely enjoy it more now,” Sokolik said. “It’s very popular in town and we have people coming from all over to attend and take part.”
Taking place under an open-air tent, this year’s Bigger Rig Gig carries the theme, “Gone South,” and will feature live music from bluegrass band, The Wool Hats, as well as DJ Matthew Mixwell.
“We definitely are sticking with the Southern theme, and feel like it’s going to be a big draw,” Sokolik said. “The Wool Hats will bring some great Southern-style music, and then after everyone eats, DJ Matthew will play the music that people want to dance to. It’s the first time we have done this band/DJ combo.”
The evening will also feature lawn games such as corn hall and ping pong, dancing under the stars and food provided by area food trucks such as House of Bones BBQ, Mardi Parti, Melt Mobile, Taco Loco and Yardbird and Co., all offering delicious, Southern-themed fare.
“At the beginning of the evening, before the food trucks arrive, Ceci Maher (executive director of Person-to-Person) will be speaking about a new exciting initiative that’s coming, which will be introduced at the event,” Sokolik said. “It’s something that people are going to be very excited about.”
There’s also a raffle with some big prizes available, including a family adventure package at Camelback Resort, a getaway to the famed Grace Mayflower Inn and Spa, a United Nations tour and Delegates Dining Room lunch, a group yoga package and a family photography session from local photographer Karen Morneau. Those that reserve six or more tickets and purchase them at check-in will also be entered to win a special New York Yankees-themed prize donated by Halstead – the official luxury real estate agency of the team.
“The Bigger Rig Gig is an important event that directly supports Person-to-Person’s Emergency Assistance Program,” said Rebecca Morrison, co-president, Opus Person-to-Person. “Last year the event raised more than $85,000 which provided assistance to members of our neighboring communities, and we are confident that we will surpass that number with this year’s event.”
The Emergency Assistance Program supports those families who need a little help to get by, such as those who may need some help with paying the electricity bill before their power is turned off or a young mother trying to get through school, who needs help paying for daycare one month.
“It’s these immediate needs that come up and are an emergency and we provide the service to help them get through the next phase and keep on moving,” Sokolik said. “That’s what Person-to-Person does in general — provide these basic, essential needs to people in this community who need a little help getting on their own two feet until they are able to move forward independently.”
The event grows larger every year, and its mix of elegance and casualness is a favorite to many.
“I think it’s one of the best event in Darien and this area in that it’s unique,” Sokolik said. “It’s in this beautiful setting, on this land, with a big pretty white tent. And on the one hand, it’s very casual with food trucks and hay, but on the other hand, it’s a classy and elegant event.”
Sokolik likes to think of it as “the closest you can get to going back to college as grown-up, responsible, mature adults” and feels people can really let their hair down and enjoy an evening for such a great cause.
All-inclusive tickets are $150 per person; $135 per person for Opus members and their spouses. Tickets may be reserved by visiting opus4p2p.org.