An Evening of Awe and Delight: Ring’ling in a New Year at The Dole

Steeped in history, Crystal Lake’s Dole Mansion sets a backdrop for a year to remember, as this nonprofit venue celebrates the woman who kicked off a century of community service.

BB and the Honey perform live jazz at New Year’s at The Dole before Chicago-based Semple Band takes the stage. This group’s high-energy musical performance promises to have toes tapping and fingers snapping. (Ashley Rufino/The Dole photo)

A dazzling evening awaits those who attend New Year’s Eve at The Dole, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake.

“This spectacular centennial celebration will be in town for one night only, on Dec. 31, 2022,” says Rosie Roche, executive director of The Dole. “Complete with real circus performers and a big top inside The Dole, we will tantalize your taste buds with passed and stationary hors d’oeuvres, a dessert bar, late-night cuisine and a champagne toast at midnight. Also, your name will be added to a scroll that will be included in a time capsule to be opened 100 years from now at the bicentennial celebration.”

This year, The Dole marks 100 years since Eliza “Lou” Ringling purchased the historic Dole mansion. During her life, she was an entertainer with the traveling circus owned by her husband, Al Ringling, the oldest brother of the famous circus family. Lou inspired audiences as a snake charmer, tarot card reader, or whatever the show needed, Roche says.

“She extended the mansion and made it into the original Crystal Lake Country Club, beginning the Dole’s role as a valued community resource,” Roche adds. “We will celebrate the roaring ’20s, this extraordinary woman, and her circus. She entertained and inspired others then and continues to do so today. Lou, this one’s for you!”

The celebration starts Saturday, Dec. 31, at 8 p.m. and continues until 1:30 a.m. Attire is 1920s-inspired or cocktail wear.

General admission includes complimentary valet parking, a complimentary signature “moonshine” cocktail, a cash bar, an array of hours d’oeuvres, late-night cuisine, a dessert bar, a complimentary champagne toast at midnight, live jazz music from opening act BB and The Honey, and center stage entertainment from headliner Semple Band.

“Guests can expect a dazzling spectacle of entertainment, music and celebration, and an atmosphere of decadence and delight that begins the moment one approaches the mansion steps,” Roche says. “Headliner Semple Band will have us dancing ‘til midnight, and Cirque du Soleil-esque surprises are in store for you.”  

Guests with VIP tickets can arrive an hour early for an additional culinary experience and spirit tasting in the swanky “Lou’s Lounge” from 7-8 p.m. The experience includes live background music.
General admission tickets are $150 each, while VIP tickets are $200. Tickets for this event are non-refundable and attendees must be 21 to enter, Roche adds.

Lakeside Legacy Foundation is the nonprofit that oversees the historic Dole Mansion and its surrounding Arts Park. Proceeds from New Year’s Eve at the Dole benefit the building’s ongoing restoration and CASA of McHenry County, an organization that trains volunteers to advocate in court for abused and neglected children.