The election and reception were met with a great deal of recent fanfare — with as many as 150 people on hand Saturday to hear and celebrate election results. In a previous statement issued by contest chairs Sue Johnson and Laura Gilmore, “voting has been heavy.” (Mum was the word about the final vote tally as of press time, but is believed to have been fairly intense.)
The George West Centennial Contest pitted Diaz against candidates Margaret Sue (Mox) Byrom and Margaret James in the race for queen; and Houdmann against Bill Hardwick for king.
Everything was all in good fun, officials said; all in service of celebrating the 100th birthday of George West, which was originally founded in September 1914.
To punctuate the king and queen election process, voters were required to pay a nickel per vote in honor of the Centennial. (They could vote as many times as they wished, as long as they paid the fee.
Officials said it was exciting to see the election play out.
“There was so much enthusiasm this year and the races were so tight,” explained Mary Ann Pawlik, chair of the GW Centennial. “Everyone had so much fun. At first I thought they would only drop in nickels — and maybe quarters to vote. But they ended up getting so excited about it they dropped in dollar bills and $20 bills.”
Voting formally concluded in July, but the coronation took place Saturday followed by a reception.
“Everybody came out to the reception,” Pawlik said. “Mr. Houdmann, the king, he had a real ball. When we first put the crown on his head it was too big and fell down but he kept trying to secure it. He finally put his baseball cap on and put the crown on top of it and that did the trick.”
Queen Olga Diaz made an exceptional Centennial queen, according to reports.
“Little Miss Olga Diaz was so cute,” Pawlik said.
Other highlights include Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff’s star turn as master of ceremonies.
What now lies ahead is the upcoming George West Centennial Weekend, Sept. 18-21:
• The Vietnam Memorial Wall will be on display at the Justice Center during that time.
• Sept. 20 marks the “All Class Reunion” starting at 10 a.m. Classmates and friends will meet at the George West cafeteria for a visiting and refreshments tour of the new high school.
Additionally, there will be a 3 p.m. Centennial Parade with all floats welcome, class floats, family floats and cars.
The timeline on the Centennial celebrations now shifts to the Sept. 20 parade — expect to see a whole lot of longhorns (as many as 20) in the mix.
“I will tell you, their horns are huge,” Pawlik said. “We will start out with two longhorns ridden by men from around Kingsville and then there will be a 1914 car from San Antonio. I wanted a 1914 and a 2014 vehicle, The 1914 will have the king and queen in the car and the 2014 will carry their court. They will be honored at our rodeo. There, they will reign.”
Then, Sept. 20 marks dinner on the courthouse lawn starting at 5 p.m. (Be sure to RSVP with Pawlik at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
At 7 p.m. Sept. 20, the historical highlights of George West will be on display at Dobie West Theatre.
At 8:30 p.m. the Live Band Concert takes place courthouse steps — with a laser show finale.
It is at this point that Pawlik and those who have invested so much in making the Centennial work for everyone will let out a collective sign of relief, she said.
But that’s not the end of the festivities: At 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 will be the Texas Historical Marker unveilings, Canfield Home Dedication and program at the Dobie West Theater.
• Noon on Oct. 11 will see cook-off judging, along with Market Days (all day concluding at 6 p.m.), a ranch rodeo at 9 p.m. and then a dance.
Ben Tinsley is a reporter for The Progress newspaper in Three Rivers. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at 361-786-3022. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BenTinsley, Google at http://plus.google.com/+BenTinsley or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.