By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 13, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 13, 2012) -- With more than 300 women and 40 vendors turning out for Girls Night Out Sept. 7, attendees and organizers alike deemed the event a success, including one who claimed, "from big to small, they had it all!"
"This is a great opportunity for women. I always have my kids so I never get to go anywhere for adults. I welcome the chance to come and see all the businesses. My drive was worth it, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. The fashion show was amazing," said Heather Moody, an attendee who drove for more than an hour to get to the event.
The event, which showcases local businesses, most geared toward women, is held twice a year and gives military spouses and local women a taste of what the Wiregrass has to offer in terms of shopping, food and spas.
The women that made Girls Night Out a success by window shopping then raising the dance floor as the night carried on, had a lot to say about the event.
"I was trying to buy tickets last year after the event ended to make sure I could get one. I enjoy coming every time they have it. My favorite part about the night is the dancing and that no men are allowed," said Darlene Reynolds, adding that the lingerie booth was nice because "some women don't know where they can get feminine [underclothes]."
Athena Watson and Deb Delk who drove from Wicksburg said they had a great time as well.
"The music is fantastic. I love to dance and this gives me a change to let loose a little. This is our first time, but we will definitely come back. We both won door prizes, so that makes the night extra fun for us," said Watson.
"I think it's really important for women to get time away from their Families and spouses without feeling guilty about it. They need to take off their shoes and have a great time. My favorite vendor was the massage booth," said Delk.
The night offered dozens of prizes, dancing, karaoke, a fashion show and two spas gave complimentary massages.
Jillian Kalocsay, said that she had "heard about [Girls Night Out] before and wanted to experience it for myself. Everybody here is so pumped up and excited, it's a good time for the girls. I am shocked at all the women who have come. I'm having so much fun."
Organizers of the event were happy that women were coming for a number of reasons.
"Getting together without the guys is always a recipe for success. It is just a great way for them to shed the stress of the week and get the weekend kicked off right. They can do some window shopping, have some [refreshments], do a little dancing in a secure atmosphere," said Jodi Roark, promotions coordinator at The Landing, adding that she wants the event to grow so that The Landing can use both rooms. "It's important for the event to continue and to get even more vendors, because we want to give something back to the military spouses."
The program will change next spring, permitting vendors to sell their wares as well allow women to continue to window shop.
"Next spring we will offer window shopping as well as have opportunities to purchase items. [Women] will be able to buy makeup, jewelry, bags, candles and accessories. We have a lot of returning people because they know how fun the night can be, but we have a lot of new faces as new Families [come] to Fort Rucker," said Leigh Ann Dukes, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sponsorship and advertising sales manager.
Different demographics of women and spouses could be seen browsing the stalls, and Brian Jackson, DFMWR program manager, said it was the perfect environment to mix and mingle for women.
"[The night] builds morale, broadens horizons about local businesses that cater to women and provides stress relief. We like to show Soldiers whose wives, a lot of which are stay at home moms, are here but they may be elsewhere that [the wives] are having a quality life, that Fort Rucker is taking care of them through DFMWR with events like this," he said.
The business venture side of Girls Night Out was also viewed as a success.
"It is a great opportunity for businesses to gain new customers and display a product that isn't mainstream yet. I can show new items and products and get a chance to communicate with our customers and potential customers," said Stacy Holub-Thames, adding that no other event is quite like Girls Night Out.
"For DFMWR to recognize the needs of not only Army spouses but women in the area is great to see," she said.
Other vendors liked the chance to connect with attendees.
"This is a great opportunity for me and my business as well as for women to causally see what is here locally without being pressured to buy, which often happens in smaller shops or boutiques. We had an opportunity to talk with each woman because they didn't feel rushed to head off to the next booth," said Cathy Vail, adding that she thought it was important for the women who sacrifice so much for the Army to have a night just for them.