Last night the smell of smoked meat and the sound of live music filled the air in the Village at Winona Lake. It was the Third Annual Blue Jeans and BBQ Gala to benefit Combined Community Services.
A group of “celebrity chefs,” including Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, Winona Lake Fire Chief Mitch Titus, Gordy Clemens, John Tucker and Matt Metzger, grilled up some delectable BBQ entrees. Some were traditional, like Clemens contest-winning BBQ ribs, others were a little different, like Tuckers delicious duck sliders.
Besides the great food, jean-clad, cowboy-hat-wearing patrons enjoyed a beverage bar (which served a concoction called “Cowboy Punch,” the Gunsmoke shooting range (at one point, I tied the evening’s record), and a themed photo booth. Some great items were auctioned off in silent and live auctions.
A dream vacation, graciously donated by Dane and Mary Louise Miller, which includes a trip to the Gulf Coast, a ride on a 100+ foot yacht, and other pleasantries, went to The Papers Inc. publisher Ron Baumgartner for a generous $8,000 donation. A helicopter ride to Indianapolis on Miller’s helicopter – described as “one of the sexiest helicopters in the sky” – and dinner at Cerulean went for $4,500 to John Tucker.
Silent Auction items included several bicycles, engineering by some of the folks at Biomet to be super fast. There were autographed pictures of One Direction and the Duck Dynasty crew, a “Bucket ‘O’ Brew” courtesy of the Kosciusko Kettleheads, tickets to notable Hoosier sporting events, a weekend getaway at Oakwood Resort in Syracuse, and much more. Needless to say, a hefty amount of funds were raised for CCS.
Thallemer became one of the first offenders of Winona Lake’s new smoking ordinance. Miller caught him enjoying a cigar after the cook-off. His $10 fine went to CCS.
As the sun set behind Winona Lake, Bekah Bradley, who played last year’s event, took the stage with her band, playing original tunes and covers. The festivities continued well into the night.