Las Vegas oddsmakers thought they had all their bets covered on Saturday, October 21. The Astros were facing off against the Yankees in the 2017 American League playoffs, and the 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball was facing incredible odds to raise bunches of money for cancer research.
While the Astros won the pennant in Houston and prepared to meet the L.A .Dodgers in the World Series, the CBB-ers were also rising to the occasion at Gilley’s Dallas. With all types of ugly weather once again threatening to create a Debbie Downer predicament, CBB Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill prepared for battle, making Eisenhower’s D-Day playbook look loosey-goosey.
The layout had been redesigned from past CBB gatherings at Gilley’s to address any possible stormy outburst. And as the days got closer and a norther started ambling its way southward, tents sprung up like bluebonnets in spring. Even the brief crosswalk between Gilley’s proper and the football stadium-size tent for the Brooks and Dunn concert was encased. Only the Ferris wheel lay bare.
But then, the Baronesses were old hands at dealing with Ma Nature, and Sunie, Anne and their committee members were prepared to take the old wet gal on. One longtime CBB vet was amazed at how seamless the evening went. The POA was created to be flexible, just in case an “Oops!” situation arose. And it did—but more about that later.
While the very fashionable types sported everything from suede skirts to custom boots, the accessory du jour was made of paper. No matter the amount of turquoise worn, it was the color of a guest’s wristband that established their pecking order. Talk about a caste system! It not only determined when and where a guest could venture, but it also reflected your exact ranking of table assignments at the Brooks and Dunn concert—if you scored the limited meet-and-greet with the duo.
As guests like Ken Paxton (who was attending his first Cattle Baron’s in six or seven years), Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Pam and Vince Perella, Rhonda and Fraser Marcus, Angela Nash with Billy Martin Jr., Lisa and Marvin Singleton, Olivia and Jeff Kearney, Barbara and Don Daseke, Bethany and Stephen Holloway and past CCB chairs (Olivia Kearney, Jennifer Dix, Cindy Stager, Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Parker, Amy Turner, Katherine Wynne, Tia Wynne, Kristen Sanger and Brooke Shelby) partied in the main ballroom, some super VIPers waited for their meet-and-greet time with Winston and Strawn Live Auction entertainer Pat Green.
Among them: Co-chair Husbands Steve Solomon and Steve Stodghill, longtime friends who passed the time bantering about their outfits (Stodghill bought his tricked-out C&W jacket at Manuel’s in Nashville, it seems, while Solomon joked that he got his duds at Neiman’s). Stodg also revealed that his Winston and Strawn law-firm pals had bought five tables for the big party.
That’s when the “oops” happened. As it turned out, the Pat Green meet-and-greeters waited … and waited … and waited. Seems that Pat had gotten a late start and then had been stuck in traffic. Not to worry, though. Food and beverages were brought in, creating a mini-party, as calls were made checking on Pat’s progress. Once he finally appeared, though, things went perfectly, with Green apologizing to each of the guests as their photos were taken. “It was the craziest thing in the world, trying to get here,” he explained to anyone who would listen. Who couldn’t forgive the baby-faced blonde? In the meantime, Pat’s wife, jewelry designer Kori Green, made her way to Jacqueline Cavender’s table for the performance leading up to the live auction, which would have a different feel tonight.
As the two Co-Chair Hubby Steves introduced Pat to the audience, Pat came up behind Stodgie and wrapped his arms around the attorney. At points throughout his performance, Pat managed to not only play his guitar and sing, but to pose for selfies with loving admirers on the floor. He also chided the crowd at one point: “It’s Saturday night, and you don’t have to apologize until tomorrow. You all sure are quiet Christians! I guess for the Brooks and Dunn show, you’re gonna be hammered!” Pat even spied his Cavendar pals and thanked them for supplying his evening’s entire wardrobe—right down to his undies.
No sooner had Pat left the stage than it was time for the live auction to get underway. Some longtime observers were concerned. After all, stalwart paddle-hoisters like Nancy Rogers, Diane and Hal Brierley and Lisa and Clay Cooley were MIA, due to out-of-town ventures and other commitments. Not to worry. Such names as Wagner, Kuykendall, Fischer, Turner and Maguire not only filled the void, they raised eyebrows. One CBB vet stood in amazement as uber-bidding took place.
An auction package of a trip to Umbria and Florence to create custom porcelain place settings for 16, plus dinner afterwards at Truluck’s Dallas for 20, was won by Sabrina and Kevin Kuykendall for $100,000.
When the poker game with former Dallas Cowboys went up for bid, Cliff Fischer put on his best poker face, waved off auctioneers and watched the bidding proceed. He had snapped it up last year for $100,000 and was playing hard-to-get. Just as the bids slowed to a standstill, Cliff raised his paddle to snap it up for $75,000.
Cary Maguire wheeled up to the Deason table on the front row with his posse just long enough to have the last paddle standing for the Las Vegas package that included a concert with Reba McIntire and Brooks and Dunn for $50,000. No sooner had he signed on the dotted line than the Maguire entourage was gone.
Todd Wagner took home the Indie package for $41,000 and Amy Turner picked up the Chefs’ dinner for a nice round figure.
A last-minute add was artwork by Ronnie Dunn, who appeared on stage to discuss his artistic venture. Art-loving Steve Stodghill couldn’t resist and snapped up Ronnie’s piece for $14,000.
Like clockwork, the live auction ended and the thousands headed to the big tent. For a handful of super-duper VIPs, it was backstage then for the meet-and-greet with Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn. As per the routine of most grip-and-grins, guests are photographed sans purses and other distractions.
But on this occasion, there were the exceptions. Barry Andrews proudly hoisted a Miller Lite. Who could blame the Miller distributor, who had once again sponsored the Miller Distributing Main Stage presented by Miller Lite?
And then there was this one fella who couldn’t be separated from his stogie. His name was Richard Friedman, but he’s more commonly known as Kinky Friedman. Perhaps he hadn’t been told that the fundraiser was benefiting the American Cancer Society?
No sooner had the photo session ended than it was time for Sunie and Anne to greet the more than 3,000 guests from the stage, announce the winners of the raffle, and get the concert underway with salutes to the military. And, what a concert it was! As two-steppers flocked to the front of the stage, Brooks and Dunn pumped out hit after hit: “Brand New Man,” “Red Dirt Road,” “Lost and Found,” “Play Something Country,” “Neon Moon,” “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” “Husbands and Wives,” “My Next Broken Heart.” Suffice to say, the big crowd got their money’s worth—and more.
In the distance, meantime, Mother Nature was holding off. She was either was on her best behavior, or flat scared that Steve Stodghill would sue her for tortious interference. Regardless, as if perfectly planned, the heavens opened up and the rain started pouring down just as the final shuttles were hauling guests back to their cars at 2 a.m.
Yup, this year the CBBers had a game plan ready to take on all challenges. And the plan worked out just beautifully.
For a look at the festivities, check out the 90 pictures at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.