As congestion grew throughout the streets in the glow of sunset, a group of young people gathered on the Texas Discovery Garden’s Circular Lawn on Thursday, November 11. They were in the final stages of planning for a wedding that would take place over the weekend.
Inside the Garden’s Grand Hall, 2021 Flora Award Co-Chairs Sarah Freeman, Rita Klein and Nancie Wagner along with Texas Discovery Gardens Board Consultant Ann Dyer were putting the final touches on the annual fundraiser for the Garden. On the stage the orchestra and podium overlooked the tables and the dance floor. Each of the tables had a centerpiece of yellow roses and white roses and miniature Texas flags. Across the way blue, yellow and orange silhouettes of the Ferris wheel were shown at the top of the wall. Rita and husband Jack Klein couldn’t resist taking a selfie with the wheels in the background to text to her daughter.
In the reception area, the Steve Bayless Orchestra’s quartet was playing Texas tunes and rightly so. After all, the guest of honor was Big Tex. Among the guests fluttered a butterfly. Not just any butterfly, but a human butterfly. It turned out to be Nancie’s daughter, Walker Wagner, complete with wings, curled antennae and sparkly mask. But Walker wasn’t the only Wagner to stand out. Her dad Alden Wagner showed his true Texas roots by donning a matching Lone Star bow tie and cummerbund.
Servers were shuttling trays of appetizers including black mission figs, goat cheese and honeycomb pecan raisin crostini.
Behind the scenes, Cassandra and her team were preparing the final stages for the evening’s three-course supper including the first course of baby greens salad, butternut squash ribbons, pomegranate arils, shave manchego cheese, pumpkin seeds and sage vinaigrette; second course of pan roasted beef tenderloin with Texas whiskey gravy, goat cheese sweet potato cake and rolls and butter; and a dessert of chocolate caramel pecan tart, caramel whipped cream and a Big Tex shortbread cookie in the main room.
Highlight of the night was Barbara Hunt Crow’s presentation of the Flora Award to State Fair of Texas Board Chair Gina Norris, who was subbing in for Big Tex. The award recognized the State Fair Of Texas’s philanthropic contributions throughout the years including the $2.5M in grants benefiting 650,000 people in 2016 as well as the Big Tex Urban Farms that had provided produce for 780,000 people in need and the $28M in awards and scholarships awarded thanks to the Big Tex Livestock Auction.
In recognition of the day being Veterans Day, guests acknowledged the U.S. veterans a the black-tie gathering.