Veterans Day came early to Gonzales this year.
On Saturday, March 16, two separate events were held in the city of Gonzales. One event was held to promote the health, welfare and benefits of all local and state veterans while the other was held to promote the VFW women’s auxiliary and its scholarship program for high school seniors.
Both events brought out veterans, relatives and friends from all over Gonzales, the county and even some people from outside the county to share in the information and good will. It was a good day for all concerned.
The day started early at the American Legion Hall. The Gonzales Veterans Affairs office, in conjunction with the Texas Veterans Affairs office in San Antonio, put on a Veterans Fair to make all vets and their families aware of the benefits and requirements in front of them to receive health care, death benefits, education benefits, and more. Over 40 veterans showed up to hear talks on a variety of issues, and the information was well received and applauded by the veterans and the families in attendance.
Dr. Garth Vaz, an army veteran, provided free health screenings throughout the day to the vets in attendance. He pronounced the event a huge success. The Gonzales chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) were on hand to greet the vets and their families and facilitate information and food and beverages as best they could. David Tucy, the county Veterans Affairs officer, was unable to attend as he was recuperating from medical treatment received in San Antonio, but his daughter was there in his stead and she provided a wildly delicious catered lunch and let everyone know that David was home and resting as he starts on the road to recovery and recuperation.
It was a nice event, but one that was definitely necessary in order to let vets know what their benefits and rights were in addition to what their families could apply for. I applaud all those involved in putting this together, especially Dr. Vaz and David Tucy for making this a reality for all of us who live here. Well done gentlemen, and well done DAR for your service, too.
Just before noon, I had to leave the American Legion Hall and head over to the VFW Post. Dorothy Staton had procured my services to be a judge at the VFW Auxiliaries 9th annual cookoff and I didn’t want to be late.
And who would want to be late anyhow? Before I arrived, the contest started with Bloody Marys in the morning as Donna Trammell captured the title of best Bloody Mary. The best margarita and other contests followed. I was there to judge the chili, beans and ribs portion of the cookoff, while others were there to participate in the chicken and brisket competition later in the afternoon.
I had a blast. The chili judging started right at noon, and there were eight solid entries. Dorothy Staton asked the judges if anyone wanted a complimentary beer while they were judging, and all the judges smiled. Since, um, it was after noon I agreed to a Coors Light. Now let me tell you this: is there anything better than being at an old-fashioned Texas cookout with chili, beans, ribs, chicken, brisket and beer? Not in my book. The chili and brew went down smoothly, and my friend Randy Poppelz won for the Best Chili.
Don’t go saying I tried to sway the vote, because I didn’t know whose chili I was tasting. But before the competition, in chatting with Randy, Bob Falany and Post Commandant Dick Kuenzler, Bob tried to get me to vote for his chili. I told him to stick a Ben Franklin underneath his entry, and I would vote for him. Dick jumped in with the best line of the day when he said “Oh, you’ll know which one is Bob’s. It’s the one with my spit on the top.” We all laughed.
Councilman Gary A. Schroeder was a fellow judge, and we took in the chili, beans and ribs competition together. Once we found out there was a free beer for judging each competition, we smiled and shook hands and congratulated ourselves on being the smartest guys in the room. Really, free beer to do this? If we had been there longer, Gary and I would have revolutionized the ribs competition. We were given plastic forks and spoons to cut the meat, and we just looked at each other in disbelief. If there had been enough ribs, we both would have picked up the bone and commenced to tearing into the meat. God, I love Texas.
The best part of the day, however, was moving between the pits and meeting the various teams and the people who were participating. Byron and Charlotte Ludwig and David Fortune began pals while I was there (probably because I jonesed a Shiner Light Blond on both days from them), but the other cool people from Family Affair, the Rusty Bottom Boys, Nautical T’s, Grumpy Old Men, Grillers Gone Wild, 2 Dogs a Cookin’ and the others were fun to hang out with and converse with.
At the end of the day, there was a silent auction and 50/50 drawing that the VFW Woman’s Auxiliary will use to award three scholarships to high school seniors in a few weeks. All the seniors have to do is write a short essay on a given topic and these wonderful ladies will choose three deserving high school grads to award scholarships to.
Donna and Kurt Trammell were the big winners, as they captured the prize for best beans, best Bloody Mary and best presentation, but everyone who was there and participated were winners too. To see pictures of all the winners and random pictures of both of Saturday’s events, check out the photo page on Page 10 of this week’s Gonzales Inquirer.
And hey, I even won the Yeti Tumbler in the silent auction for only $25! Free food, free beer and a Yeti Tumbler! God Bless Texas and the great city of Gonzales.