This is a tough column to write.
Where do I begin to say thank you to all of the wonderful people who helped make the Inaugural Gonzales Inquirer Craft Beer, Wine and Art Festival such an overwhelming success? I mean, there are so many people who deserve a pat on the back and so many who pitched in here and there that I am overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of where to begin to say thank you.
If it takes a village to make things successful, then Gonzales is one heck of a village to live in. From the moment I broached the subject of holding and sponsoring this event, the city embraced the concept through the offices of Barbara Frederich (Main Street), Genora Young (Gonzales Economic Development Corporation), Clint Hille (Gonzales City Tourism Director) and Tim Patek (Interim City Manager). Although there were some bumps and hurdles along the way, everyone worked with me to overcome the obstacles and roadblocks. For that I can only say “Thank You.”
Then there were the sponsors. First, I can’t say enough about all the good people I worked with at Shiner and David Hartman and Jimmie Perez from Hartman Distributing Company in Victoria, Texas. From the moment I laid out my idea, David and Jimmie enthusiastically jumped on board and got involved with making the Craft Beer Festival a reality. They spent countless hours helping and were on hand 24/7 over the weekend to offer help, encouragement and labor that was needed. I literally could not have done it with out them. And to Goliad, Blue Moon, Coors, Bells Brewery, Thirsty Planet, Freetail Brewing, Seguin Brewing Company, Becker Vineyards and all the others, thank you for your support and participation.
Second, there were the local sponsors. I owe David Stewart of David Stewart Trucking a huge debt because he was the first person to step forward and say “I want to help out.” Not only did David put his money where his mouth was, but he also encouraged others to step forward. Thanks in part to David, his brother Ken Stewart of Ken Stewart Trucking stepped forward, as did Randy Wilson at Flare Energy, Mark Pravel at Pravel Insurance Brokerage, Jason Rogers and his partner at H & R Block and my friend Gary Henderson who lent a hand as well. From the bottom of my heart, thanks for stepping up and helping fund the upfront costs of this event with money and sweat equity.
Then there was Marlene at the Running M. Do you know what a gem of asset this town has in this incredible lady? All she did was offer her liquor license up for me to use, jumped in when things needed to be done, and had encouraging words throughout the process. I am honored by her help, and proud to call her my friend.
Then there was Sanya Harkey and Shelly Stamport who work at the Gonzales Inquirer. Not only did these two women step up and volunteer their own time as volunteers throughout the festival, but they helped keep me focused and somewhat sane (I know that is hard to believe) as the process developed over the four-month planning period all the while performing their jobs at the newspaper at a high level.
And how can I not mention James McMains, Joe and Landra Solansky, and Rob and Lisa Brown for their yeoman service. James and the San Antonio Distillery were supporters from the very beginning even though they could not sell their product. James also offered his wonderful sound system that everyone used during the festival that provided such quality sound and kept everyone’s toe tapping. Joe Solansky quietly bore the slings and arrows of working security both nights, and there was no more thankless job than that. I want him to know how much I appreciate his effort, friendship and honesty. And what can I say about Landra and her tag-team partner Judy McAtee from Michigan who worked the gate, pleasantly greeted everyone, meticulously counted the money, checked I.D.s, and then even took one inebriated patron home where they were attacked by a dog. That, my friends, is above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks to all of you.
Then there was Rob and Lisa who kept encouraging people to attend, who volunteered and worked both days, and then even went above and beyond and bought cases of water to the event to keep people hydrated. It was a thoughtful and wonderful gesture, and I thank both of them. And yes, Lisa, I am sorry for losing my mind on Saturday afternoon. Oh, and I can’t forget Andy and Cindy Rodriquez at Personal Impressions and Debby for their yeoman work—including volunteering. It was noticed and appreciated. And thanks to Jeff at McCoys for use of the steps.
Next, and most importantly, I want to thank all of the wonderful volunteers who stepped up to work the event. I am not going to mention everyone’s name because I know I am going to forget someone, but to the help from Boomers, Running M, Personal Impressions, Doreen, John, Laurie and others—thank you so, so much. You were so gracious, wonderful, happy and competent—where do I find more people like you? You were the best.
To Judy McAtee—thanks so much for listening, cajoling, supporting, praising, questioning and working this event. You are truly an amazing woman.
And finally, to everyone who attended the event: thank you for coming and thank you for your tremendously wonderful comments and words of support. It meant everything to me. Whether from Gonzales, El Paso, Dallas, Houston, Lake Charles or even the great Show Me State of Missouri, all of you touched my heart and I am in your debt.
This event came to together in less than five months period of time. It shows what a determined, dedicated and persistent effort can accomplish when something is done for the betterment of a community. We did it, and we did it together.
Thank you everyone. See y’all again next April with a bigger, better and more robust festival. I promise.