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Selby Gardens hosts Film Festival luncheon and more

Recent transplant Tom Buchter jumped into the local social scene with both feet.

Last week, the new executive director of Selby Gardens presided over three different events at the botanical park.

The hectic schedule ended with Selby’s own fundraiser, the Orchid Ball, but started on Tuesday with a luncheon under the oak trees to honor interim director Jessica Ventimiglia.

Realtor Michael Saunders offered a toast to Jessica for stepping in to keep the show running during the search for a permanent executive director.

Folks from all parts of Jessica’s busy life gathered to say “thanks,” including Selby board chair Tom Luzier, church friends John and Marianne Moyer, and Sally Petschel, who became her friend during Jessica’s stint as executive director of the South Florida Museum. Of course, the two men who share all parts of Jessica’s life were there — husband, Vince, and son, Michael.

On Friday, Selby Gardens was host to the Sarasota Film Festival’s Luncheon Under the Banyans.

Fortunately, this event was held under a white tent since a few showers moved through. The proceeds from the luncheon benefited the new Children’s Rainforest at the gardens, so the drizzle just added a little authenticity.

Actor Bill Paxton was given the Career Achievement Award and his speech graciously recognized Sarasota’s circus heritage.

He explained that his nanny told him that if he wanted to be a clown, he should be a good one and join the Ringling Brothers Circus.

Among the guests were John and Denise Saputo (who shared their table with actors Jon Voight and Burt Young), Kim Cornetet and luncheon chair Mary Ann Robinson.

Susan Wilcox, a Florida native, has lived in Bradenton for more than 20 years. She has been active in many local organizations as a volunteer or an employee.