Dancing Stars, Hot Chicken & Paula Deen, Y’all!

Dancing Stars poster 2016The 5th annual Dancing Stars of Central Georgia, an Alzheimer’s Association fundraiser, took place this past weekend at the Macon City Auditorium to a sold out crowd. I had the dual honor of dancing the opening dance with the alumni stars as well as serving as one of the judges alongside celebrity chef, Paula Deen; Dancing With The Stars pro, Louis van Amstel; and Paste Magazine movies editor, Michael Dunaway.

I competed as a ‘star’ during the first year of this event with pro Colby Marshall. It was one of the hardest and most fun things I’ve ever done. So, when the director of Alzheimer’s Assoc in Macon, Karen Kinsler, asked if I would judge this year and dance in the opening number, I jumped at the offer. Weekly dance practices began with choreographer Spencer Maddox herding us like the cats that we are. Fast forward … it was so worth it! I loved getting to know a really cool and fun group of folks and work on perfecting this dance as a team.

The night before the big event was our final practice and dress rehearsal on the stage at the auditorium. The ‘alumni stars’ met up at Tic Toc Room for pre-rehearsal drinks & dinner with Paula Deen.  Did I mention that I love these people? Such a fun and dedicated group of folks that I had the pleasure to work with: Joanna Jones, Ashley Copelan, Dean Copelan, Ellie Farriba, Mark Farriba, Jennifer Duke, Charles Olson, Lisa Harris, Jackson Walker, Anne Hansen and Chris Wilson. All of them are killer cool and dedicated to perfecting the dance.Paula Deen : Dancing Stars

Night of the event …we do it…we kill it. Except for the fact that I missed my entrance and left Anne hanging to start the dance without our grand entrance. Sorry, Anne! The audience deserved to see your twirl. Regardless of the late entrance, I jumped right in as if I hadn’t missed a beat. And I’ll confess, it was the FIRST TIME that I got all the steps right.

Here is our dance:

From the stage it was on to the judges table for me. Sitting with Louis, Paula and Michael, I was definitely the least seasoned judge. But hey, you gotta start somewhere. And judging with this group of superstars isn’t a bad way to get my feet wet.


Dancing Stars.Judges 2016-judges9 Star/Pro couples took their shot at the mirror ball and most were pretty darn good. Edward Clark and his pro Mary Mattmann came out and completely blew us all away with a high stepping swing. As I said from the judges table, he “kicked ass!” After all competed, we all went into a judges’ room to select the Judges’ Choice winner of the mirror ball … unanimously it was Edward. Elizabeth Coplen, the youngest of all the stars, and her partner Clay Mote, walked away with 2 mirror balls: People’s Choice and Night of event Top Fundraiser. Y’all, if you haven’t been to one of these, you should definitely go next year. It’s great entertainment and I think y’all would love it.

This event raised $240,685 for Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia. Over the 5 years, Dancing Stars of Central Georgia event has raised $1,112,000 – we surpassed the $1 Million mark this year.


Hot ChickenAfter Dancing Stars event was over, a group of us went over to H&H Restaurant for Chef Kevin McCauley’s late night Hot Chicken Pop-Up which was a one-time deal. 10:30pm to 12:30am. I can’t help it, but a late night pop-up has a big city ring to it and I like it!  My aunt Brenda said, “We are eating fried chicken at midnight?” Yes, we are, Aunt Brenda! If my 92 year old grandmother is fine with it, so am I. Hot Chicken is the rage in Nashville, if it’s good enough for the country music capitol it should be well received in Macon, GA; the Song & Soul of the South. I’ve been wanting to try it and all I can say is…DAMN, this is a good bird. I now understand what the fuss is all about. It was some kickin’ chicken.

This is what satisfied customers look like at one o’clock in the morning:

HotChicken PopUp.5:7:2016


(L-R)  Louis van Amstel, Anita Sandefur (my mom), Margaret Bickerstaff (my grandmother), Paula Deen, me, Wyatt (my son), Ron Yarbrough (my uncle) and Brenda Yarbrough (my aunt) at H&H Restaurant in Downtown Macon, Georgia.




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