What a great night it was! The evening began with recognition of a fine man, sheriff, friend, dad, husband and family member… Bill Elsbury, who has left us but will never be forgotten. Next was a blessing provided by Pastor Lee Romero, who dressed in period Old West preacher garb, as did his wonderful wife, and danged if we didn’t feel like we had slipped back to a moment in the 1800s.
The weather was perfect, peaking in the low 80s, compared to last year when this event was held on the coldest day of the year. Dinner was provided by Silver K Café, who, as always, did a fabulous job, not to mention the food was incredibly delicious. As dinner progressed, the presentation of the People’s Choice awards began. Julie Storer presented the award for the “Outstanding Educator of the Year,” who was none other than our awe-inspiring Superintendent of JCISD, David Shanley. David has a never-ending pursuit of making our schools the best they can be, along with his staff, administrators, educators, the community and others who support our schools – a sign of a true leader.
Immediately following, the “Chamber Member of the Year” was announced, and the winner was Kay Pratt. You just can’t say enough about Kay; she is extremely community-focused and has a heart the size of Texas. An example is when fireworks were banned last year, she suggested we have a community dinner at the park after the parade. She and Silver K Café provided free hot dogs, watermelon, and more to the entire community. This is just one of many things Kay has done and continues to provide.
Next on the agenda was “Business of the Year,” and the winner was Pecan Street Brewing, accepted in humble fashion by Tim and Patty Elliott. Not only was there numerous years’ worth of work put into restoring the old hardware store, they have provided us with an additional gathering place where you can hang out, dine, visit old friends or make new ones. They are also community-minded and give back to us frequently and generously. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Sean Elliott, whose ability to craft some fabulous beers has no doubt assisted in the success of Pecan Street Brewing. Not being a big beer drinker, Sean has found a way to my heart with his Screw Loose Blonde. That is one darn good tasting beer!
The awards presentation culminated with the presentation of the “Dwayne Hoppe Outstanding Citizen Award.” This award was named after Dwayne Hoppe last year, in honor of his many, many years of community service that will be remembered forever. The winner was Chelita Riley. Chelita has devoted countless hours serving on boards and donating her time to the community ever since she set foot in Blanco County, from serving on the boards of The Blanco County Economic Development Committee, Blanco County Master Gardeners, North Blanco County Library District, Johnson City Garden Club, Johnson City Chamber of Commerce (past officer and director, current advisory position), local Chili Chapter, to exclusively raising funds for local charities, attaining community grants (which is a tremendous amount of time and work) and volunteer services for her church. As Chelita accepted this award, she provided us with a priceless moment… as she was rendered speechless. With teary eyes, she simply said thank you and appreciated the many folks who also donate countless hours to the community. Our hats off to Chelita for her efforts!
From the time the doors opened at 5, folks began heading to the Blanco County Show Barn with folks coming from Johnson City, Blanco, Austin, Fredericksburg, and beyond to attend our sold-out, Old West Casino Night. There were silent auction items provided from businesses and individuals throughout the county and past the county line. Between donors and bidders, the silent auction was a huge success. It’s amazing what can be accomplished one small step at a time and it’s the folks in our community and county who truly make the difference.
Stepping into the casino side of the celebration, folks who were newbies at casino games played Texas Hold’em Poker, blackjack, roulette, and craps as if they’d played for years. There was a lot of laughter, visiting with longtime friends and making new ones. Scooter Pearce provided us with awesome music throughout the evening, sometimes accompanied by Ed Nagy, who happens to be my husband and never passes up an opportunity to grab the microphone. The two did a great job together. Reserved selection wines from Becker Vineyards were tasted and enjoyed through the evening, along with beer provided graciously by Cattleman’s National Bank.
The evening was finished with a raffle for some fabulous door prizes, including birdhouses built by our local artist, Stephen Sumrall, a gift certificate from Johnson City Cleaners, and several great items from Black Spur Emporium. I’d have to say the most excited winner was none other than the wonderful Liz Waller-Broyal, a Director of the Blanco County Chamber of Commerce. Liz is always upbeat and positive, so you can only imagine how she delighted us with her outburst at winning the hand-painted Talavera bowl.
We appreciate all the folks who brought this event to fruition and helped make it a success.