Columbia County officials are gearing up for a gala to preview the county's new library and performing arts center.
Construction on the building is complete, with only final landscaping to install.
"We've been working fast and furious to get ready" for the gala, said Mark Chostner, the county's Construction and Maintenance Division interim director.
"Not all the furniture will be there, but it wasn't planned to be, either. It will be ongoing for a couple of weeks after the gala," he said.
The black-tie preview gala is slated for 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the building at 720 N. Belair Road in Evans.
Carly Kobasiar, the county's community events specialist, said reservations have been steadily coming in.
"Our phone has been ringing off the hook," Kobasiar said. "We are expecting in the neighborhood of 350 guests."
The gala, which has a theme of Once Upon A Time, will preview the new facility and raise funds for a grand piano for the performing arts center and an endowment for facility maintenance and improvement. The event also will include a wine tasting and heavy hors d'oeuvres.
The four-hour event will feature performances from groups such as the Columbia County Choral Society, the Augusta Players, the Augusta Symphony, the Augusta Ballet and Air Apparent, formerly the Partridge Inn's house jazz band.
Area artists such as guitar and flute duo Tom Godfrey and Julie DeMott, pianist Brent Odom, saxophonist Fred Williams and harpist Nell Morris will perform.
When the building and grounds are finished, the center will include a library, meeting and conference rooms, a 300-seat performing arts center, a memorial garden, a pond and a 1,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.
The library is slated to open in March with two weeks of grand-opening events, which county officials hope will feature first lady Laura Bush in April.
Kobasiar said this week will be busy with final preparations such as having programs printed, technical walkthroughs with entertainers and ordering flower arrangements.
"As for the final preparations, the 'big' stuff is pretty much complete," Kobasiar said. "The hardest work is done, now we're ready to party!"
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