Those who come to the 95th annual Cleburne Chamber of Commerce Banquet on Thursday might notice a few differences compared with years past.
Though the past few years have featured entertainers like Austin-based illusionist Billy Riggs or Houston ventriloquist Ian Varella, attendees this year will be treated to mingling and networking while awaiting the annual chamber banquet awards.
“We’ve done programs and entertainment but we’ve notice people don’t have the chance to visit with each other,” chamber President Cathy Marchel said. “They will be looking at the opportunity of 400-500 people networking with each other, and then we’ll do the awards.”
To go along with the social hour for the first time an assortment of buffet stations will be offered so individuals can continue to network as they go get dinner.
Also for the first time a live auction will be held at the banquet. Some of the items being auctioned off are a three- or four-day Carinval Cruise package at a $1,300 value and 50 rounds of golf at the Cleburne Golf Links at a $1,000 value.
“We want to raise funds for the chamber because we are a nonprofit and it fits us to provide enhanced services to our members and businesses,” Marchel said.
Because this is the chamber’s 95th banquet, there are also plans to tie in the anniversary in some way, Marchel said.
“The awards will be the same,” she said, noting that the hope is to give another Lifetime Achievement Award — which is no easy task to be nominated for.
“You have to have been involved in the community for numerous years and really make a contribution with businesses, smart business decisions,” she said.
Lifetime Achievement Awards have been presented to George Marti, Lowell “Stretch” Smith and Howard Dudley.
The Young Business Professional Award has been given twice, to Sears Hometown Store owner Jason Cech and Senior Vice President of Pinnacle Bank Amber Witte.
Those nominated for the Young Business Professional Award should be younger than 40 years old, a manager or owner of a business and involved in a community business for at least two years while showing leadership qualities and community commitment.
Ambassador Award recipients are chosen based on a point system on the number of hours of volunteer work completed during the year with the chamber. An ambassador team and individual are chosen for this award.
Other awards are chosen by a committee of five past winners. The Athena Award is chosen by a group of as many past recipients attending the award presentation meeting.
The event lasts until about 8:30 p.m. Individual banquet tickets are $45 and corporate tables are $600. If individuals call by 5 p.m. Tuesday and mention the Times-Review they can reserve a ticket for $38.
“We like the keep the price where everyone can come,” Marchel said. “We are also in need of sponsorships, which help keep the prices of tickets down.”
For more information on becoming a sponsor or for tickets, call the chamber at 817-645-2455.