Debate over the Supreme Court justice nominee John G. Roberts raged in Chilmark. Dinner guests sat in awe as Patricia Neal recited her Hollywood Walk of Fame address on Edgartown harbor. And couples danced the night away to the cabaret music of Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano in Lambert's Cove.
The dinner parties that took place across the Island on Saturday night were all part of the second annual Guess Who's Coming to Dinner gala fundraiser for Houses on the Move, a committee of the Island Affordable Housing Fund. The event was sold out and raised more than $200,000.
Three hundred guests began the evening under a clear sky at Herring Creek Farm, where they were greeted by host Rob Hughes, decked out in seersucker, Vineyard Vines tie and a Panama hat. There they learned which of the 15 different dinner parties they would be attending.
Along with Mr. Hughes and his wife, Susan, the pre-event cocktail party was hosted by Dan and Mary Stanton. Guests indulged in a little pink and green, the evening's theme colors, with offerings of wine, beer, pink lemonade and the cocktail of the night Pink Elephant Ears - vodka, pink lemonade and lime.
Ken Karakul and Suzanne Lanzone, cochairmen of the event for the second year, said the primary goal of Houses on the Move is to keep everyday Islanders on the Island, from artists and musicians to teachers and fishermen. And while the purpose of the event is to raise money, it also allows people to create connections with residents and visitors in an intimate setting.
"I'm involved because this charity means the most to me," said Barbara MacDonald, a resident of Boston and Edgartown. "I came to the Island because of the people here. I can't imagine living in a place where everyone is the same."
All of the money raised benefits Island families who are caught in an affordable housing crisis. Over the past five years, Houses on the Move has supported affordable housing efforts undertaken by housing agencies, towns and other nonprofit agencies across the Vineyard. Currently 52 families are benefiting from Houses on the Move.
Hosts were happy to foot the bill in the name of affordable housing. Friederike Biggs and her husband, Jeremy, hosted the In the Still of the Night dinner at their Lambert's Cove home. They brought cabaret performers Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano to perform for their guests and hired Chef Works catering to serve dinner.
"It's such a worthwhile cause," Mrs. Biggs said. "And I think it's great fun. It's always different; each time you get a different mystery guest. Also it's fun to meet some of these new people."
Michelle Headley and her husband, David, hosted the Legends and Headliners dinner at their home on the Edgartown harbor. As a first-year participant Mrs. Headley was unsure what to expect but said she liked the idea of meeting new people, especially on the Island, where groups of people often do not intermingle despite being part of such a small community.
"There are a lot of fundraisers on this Island but there's something about going to a person's home," Mrs. Headley said. She and her husband arranged for the actress Patricia Neal and poet Rose Styron to be guests along with some local legends. Lobster Tales catered that dinner and several others Saturday night.
Barry Stein and Rosabeth Moss Kanter hosted Crimson and Confidence at the Edgartown Great Pond home and their special guests came from all backgrounds. Ms. Kanter is the Ernest L. Arbuckle professor of business administration at Harvard business school.
As the conversation moved from affordable housing to other issues facing the Vineyard - nature, construction and land conservation - the guests at Crimson and Confidence found themselves looking to the bartender for answers. Mr. Stein and Ms. Kanter had hired Annie Foley to cater the event, and her brother, Paul Foley, an analyst and planner for the Martha's Vineyard Commission, was moonlighting as a bartender.
"He was serving wine and from time to time we called on Paul to answer questions about the commission and where it was at," Mr. Stein said.
Down the road at the Vineyard Golf Club, at a party hosted by Owen and Marjorie Larkin, guests gathered in the club house to sample the club's food and discuss the affordable housing crisis on the Vineyard. Philippe Jordi, with Island Housing Trust, provided information about his organization and how it benefits the Island.
And up-Island in Chilmark at the house of Alex MacDonald and Maureen Strafford, the attorney Alan Dershowitz and Cong. William Delahunt stirred debate about political issues facing our country.
"First of all I recognize we are in a crisis situation here," Mr. Delahunt said before dinner, catered by Dee Geiger of Tea Lane Caterers. "The people who have come here tonight recognize there is a problem and are working to address and alleviate that problem."
Other dinners held Saturday night included:
All that Jazz on the waterfront overlooking Menemsha Pond, hosted by Bob Rosenberg and Mary Wolfson.
Barefoot on the Beach on the waterfront on Chappaquidick, hosted by Mike Kiddler and his family.
Barn Storming at Susie Tree's Barn, hosted by Warren Spector and Margaret Whitton.
Cheers, Cheers, Cheers on Edgartown harbor, hosted by Ken Karakul and James Held.
Curb Your Laughter at the north shore estate of Brian and Aileen Roberts with special guest Larry David.
Hollywood and Pine at Tashmoo Woods waterfront, hosted by Doug Kramer and Hugh Bush.
Home Again at GayMark hosted by Bob Vila and Diana Bartlett.
Literacy Partners on Starbucks Neck hosted by Jane and Michael Horovitz with a special performance by Vineyard Sound.
Think Global, Listen Local on Oyster Pond, hosted by Warren and Megan Adams and Norman and Jessica Hall with special guest Henry Louis Gates Jr.
For those who missed Saturday's event, there is still an opportunity to participate in a special You're So Vain dinner on August 13. Tickets are $1,000 and are limited to 25 people. For more information, call Houses on the Move at 508-696-0943.