Saturday was a busy day in Dade as the spring outdoor festival season kicked off with the Dade County Public Library's "Read to Lead" event in the morning and the Dade County Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet in the evening.
Library manager Marshana Sharp said it was still raining as she opened the building Saturday morning so it seemed prudent to move the big events of the day, the Dr. Seuss birthday festivities and the reading to children by county and civic leaders, inside the library. But skies cleared in time for the kids to enjoy outdoor fun on the Trenton town square, including pony rides and farm animal viewing courtesy of Noah's Little Ark Petting Zoo. At left, Levi Foster, 7, poses astride.
This is the third annual Read to Lead and Ms. Sharp said it grows more popular every year. Numbers weren't in yet but Ms. Sharp said around noon that the library's automatic door counter had already registered over 500 attendees. The Planet can attest the library was packed.
C of C award winners, from left, John and Melanie Thatcher, Amanda Clark, George Nelson, Larry Moore, Chris Chance and Will Garrett. (Photo by Alex McAlpin.)
Now, moving on to the evening: At the Dade Chamber of Commerce's gala, Dade County's favorite fryer of fingers, Will Garrett of Guthrie's Chicken, won the C of C's prestigious Citizen of the Year title. Garrett, who recently opened his fourth Guthrie's restaurant, is not only a role model for entrepreneurs but a community activist and powerful advocate for youth. His second "Inspire Weekend," an event to help young people find direction, begins April 7.
Dade's energetic band director Chris Chance was named Educator of the year, and Dade First and its director, Amanda Clark, were honored with the Nonprofit of the Year award. Small Business of the Year was Thatcher's BBQ, whose owners, John and Melanie Thatcher, keep opening new restaurants.
Corporation of the year was Southeast Lineman Training Center, and the Chamber honored SLTC's founder, George Nelson, who started the college in a triple-wide trailer and has since expanded it to three canvases on both sides of Highway 11. SLTC floods the county with three 200-plus classes yearly of lineman trainees who eat at Dade restaurants, fill up at Dade gas stations and have done wonders for Dade's economy.
The annual Bill O'Neal award was bestowed on Larry Moore, the Chamber's first-ever double recipient. Moore, who now runs the family funeral home, formerly ran Dade County--he was sole commissioner 1981-1992.
The theme of this year's banquet was the Wild West, and the Best Cowgirl title was bestowed on Dr. Mary Hammock. Who won Best Cowboy? Who else? Eddie "Cowboy" McBryar, who dresses the part 365 days a year.
(Photo by Alex McAlpin.)
The Chamber said attendance at the event set records, and sends thanks to the plethora of local businesses that sponsored it.