April 26, 2008, will be remembered by members of the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society as the Gala which best celebrated the beautiful Second Empire-style Old Blanco County Courthouse. A large tent was set up on the courthouse grounds for the dinner, catered by Riley’s Barbecue and Steakhouse, and the live auction following it. Approximately 40 Silent Auction items, including handcrafted quilts, a hand-tooled leather belt crafted by Marvin Stetler, a Willard Gibbons photograph, sculpture, a deluxe birdhouse designed by John Jones, Adirondack chairs, gift baskets, dishes, jewelry, embroidered linens, exercise equipment, and a large outdoor propane grill, as well as gift certificates donated by local merchants, were displayed inside the courthouse, where guests could browse prior to the dinner and place bids throughout the evening up to 9 p.m.
After dinner, guests danced under the stars to the music of the Sam Bentley Band until a break for the live auction. The auctioneer, Eugene Bradfute, a Blanco resident, added excitement to the evening with his rapid-fire delivery, which combined with the generosity of bidders to raise the price of items to nosebleed heights. A Mystery Progressive Dinner for 8, donated by Sullivan St. Caterers, went for over $500, while the highly-coveted “Dinner on the Docs,” hosted by Dr. John Weaver and Dr. Doug Pautz, went for over $2000 to Christian Schultz, Anne Holt, and the doctors’ wives—Vickie Pautz and MaryAnn Weaver— after a flurry of bidding. Two tickets anywhere in the US on Southwest Airways went for over $800, while a fishing trip donated by Dobie Benson brought over $400. One of Dorothy Troppe’s famous chocolate cakes with giant fresh strawberries on top went for over $600 and a cedar porch swing for over $900. A Country Brunch for 10 donated by Jeff and Sarah Harkinson brought $925, while A Hill Country Cooking Getaway for Two at one of Sibby Barrett’s Juniper Hills Farm’s deluxe casitas netted $1350 for the OBCCPS.. The three biggest donors were Steve and Marci Wagner of Wagner Construction, with $3800, the DirtWorks group with $1655, and Ron Bourland with $1350. As well, over 40 people gave donations totaling $6910, with Pat Ryan of the Ryan Ranch and Bob Boydston each contributing over $1000.
When the dust settled, the evening grossed over $31,000 toward the continued restoration of Blanco County’s original Ruffini-designed courthouse and the landscaping of its grounds. Treasurer RK Seals said that, by his calculations, the net profit for the evening will be $26,000 after expenses, “a substantial increase over the approximately $19,000 we’ve seen in the last three years.” He concluded, “We were really pleased and thankful for all the people who participated and donated toward the success of the Gala.”