PHOTO: Jill Cole consults her notebook full of event details for the 45th annual Heritage Ball, to be held on Saturday, September 15, 2018./Brooke Wanser


This past Monday, crews appeared at the sprawling Eastern Flank Battle Field Park to set up rigging for the enormous white tents which would soon envelop space near the park office.

By Wednesday afternoon, most of the tents were up, with royal blue tulle cascading from the top pole inside. Chairs and tables were stacked in several corners, and a stage for a band began to emerge.

Southern Events Party Rental Company has managed the entire set up for the annual Heritage Ball since 2010. As the main fundraiser for the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, the event is the longest running black-tie affair in the county.

Chip and Jill Cole started the company in 2004 as a part-time venture out of their garage, with 200 chairs and 30 tables.

At the time, he worked for an environmental consulting firm, she, in events at a conference center.

They took out a second mortgage on their home, and eventually quit their jobs to run the company full-time in 2006.

How did Cole know their company would be so successful?

“I’m not a person that takes no for an answer, or we can’t do that,” she said. “I knew that I loved the event business and I wanted to do this, and I’m not going to go into anything thinking I’m not going to be successful.”

Now, Southern Events puts together nonprofit events like the Heritage Ball, Friends of Franklin Parks’ Raise the Roof fundraiser, and Steven Curtis Chapman’s Show Hope event, as well as weddings and smaller events. They are also involved in putting together some of the tents for next weekend’s Pilgrimage Festival.

Southern Events runs with the help of 25 full-time employees and another 20 to 30 seasonal employees. September and October are the busiest months, Cole said, with April, May, and June following.

Even in the hustle and bustle, Cole finds satisfaction in piecing together logistics like a puzzle.

“I like being the person there that brings everyone together, because what we do affects everyone,” Cole said. “We’re like the hub of that.”

“Ultimately, whoever my client is, if they’re happy, I’m happy.”

Special touches

The Heritage Ball is a special event for Cole, as Southern Events is a major sponsor, donating part of their services to the historic preservation group’s fundraiser.

“It still needs to be elegant and beautiful, and not taking tie-dye too literally,” Cole said. “I think that people will be pleasantly surprised what they have pulled off, and what Emily [Magid, the ball chair] has envisioned.”

The color scheme of the night will mirror the ball invitations, Cole added, with deep blues and teals.

Sargent’s Fine Catering will provide the dinner again, with Grays on Main providing the colorful signature cocktails, which were revealed at the VIP Sponsor party last month.

The 45th annual Heritage Ball will take place at the park on Saturday, September 15, beginning with cocktail hour at 6 p.m.

By the numbers:

750+ guests

7,000 glasses

3,500 plates

800 chargers (place settings)

100 servers

20 full box trucks from Southern Events alone

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