A large crowd once again gathered in Mustang Cafeteria on Monday night, February 27, for the 60th Annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet.

Emceed by Criminal District Attorney Bill Helwig the theme this year was “Texas Visions” which featured Wyman Meinzer, The Official Photographer of the State of Texas as the principle speaker.

The Flag Ceremony was presented by Cub Scout Troop #767 under the Direction of Kathleen Carrillo. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Brad Irons of the First Baptist Church led the audience in the singing of the National Anthem.

Irons then led the invocation which was followed by the meal which consisted of Bar-B-Q, potato salad, red beans, a dinner roll, peach and cherry cobbler for dessert, and ice tea. The meal was served by the Mustang Cafeteria staff and FCCLA students under the direction of high school teacher Shanna Weir.

Helwig then introduced the retiring directors which included John R. “Corky” Black (In Remembrance), David Fung, Timmi Owen, and Barbara Wagner. Incoming directors for a 3 year term will include John Kelly, Susan Leach, Jill Marion, and Robbie Underhill.

Retiring student directors are Tommie Lynn Hicks, Xylena Pillai, and Denisse Saenz. They will be replaced by new student directors Gabi Alschbach and Macey Jordan.

In addition to the main speaker the highlight of the banquet is always the announcement of the six special awards.

Coveted awards included the President’s Award presented to Emma Silvas, Special Life Time Achievement Award to Dalphene Benson, Professional of the Year award was presented to City Attorney Warren New, Business of the Year Danny’s Service Company owned by Tommy and Cindy Durham, Citizen of the Year went to past Chamber President and co-owner of Tejas Partnership Charlie Espinoza, and Ambassador of the Year was Jonette DeBlauw.

Wyman Meinzer then entertained the large audience with his 20 minute slide show presentation of Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut.

Through his photography Meinzer told the story of how Tom T. East Sr. purchased 23,795 acres of South Texas ranchland and, two months later, married Alice Gertrudis Kleberg of the powerful King Ranch.

Today, the family holdings operate as the East Foundation, a working cattle ranch and research preserve. The East family’s legacy provides a window onto both an older way of life and the newest approaches to range and wildlife management.

Helwig wrapped up the program with his concluding remarks thanking those who attended. Over 400 guest were in attendance this year once again making it a huge success.

“Like past banquets, we felt like this was one was another big success,” stated Chamber Manager Marilyn McCurley. “We had so much help from so many people all the way from those who helped set up the Mustang cafeteria to the cooks, servers, and the cleanup crews. A special thanks to Saul and Karen Tovar for their delicious meal. It was a wonderful evening for all to enjoy some good old West Texas hospitality.”

Plans are already underway for the 2018 61st Annual Chamber Banquet.