Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cattle Baron's 2012: The Good, the Bad and the Muddy

Can you believe that until Saturday night, I had never been to Cattle Baron's Ball. Although this is a legendary event around these parts, I have just never had a burning desire to dress up in western wear and drive out to Parker, Texas for some boot scootin'.

This year, I felt like it was something I needed to man up and do, just to cross off the list - when I received an invite to sit at the table of Pucci Lisenbee (I swear to God, that's his real name) and be a guest of Burberry.  Coincidentally, I had just aquired a smokin' hot pair of Bonafide Boots. I took it as a sign that I was meant to go. This was the year.

As you all know, the flood gates opened up and it poured rain all day and into Saturday night. The best thing I can say about this year's Cattle Baron's Ball was that the poor event Chairs, Skye Brewer and Kristen Johnston, did the best they could under the circumstances.

Pucci Lisenberry, Angie Barrett, Gregg Asher and Hamilton Sneed

This event is usually spread out over the Southfork Ranch grounds allowing guests to roam various food stations, a silent auction tent, fair games and more. Because of the rain, the event had to be tented and although they had multiple tents that were the length of a football field, it dramatically altered your ability to maneuver around and enjoy anything.  They had laid hay down on the ground to help absorb the rain, but it was still a swampy mess and every step you took sank you an inch down in the mud making it hard to walk about very much. In fact, I never made it over to the silent auction tent, because that would have meant walking about 100 in the rain to get to it. I decided that I didn't need anything that bad.

Blake Shelton
I caught a ride with some girl-friends, LeeAnne Locken, Angela Choquette, Parris Rigby and Emily Eisenhauer and thank the Lord that Angela was smart enough to get us a driver!

Among the notables braving the rain with me were former Dallas Cowboy Tony Casillas and his wife TamaraMatt Nordgren, Jennifer Miller and Bri Crum, chefs Tiffany Derry and Lisa Garza, Rick and Janet Fresquez, Stubbs and Holly Davis and Nancy Gopez.

So, Burberry was supposed to have had a table, but because of the "Plan B rain plan" the only guests who ended up with tables were the $25,000 sponsors and everyone else got chairs.  Never fear... I am very resourceful and when they announced that Blake Shelton was about to take the stage, I said to my friends, "Let's go walk around and see if we can find anyone we know at a table who might have a few empty seats, so we can get closer to the stage."

We were wandering about, saying hello to folks when I spied a completely empty table right in the middle of the room about 8 rows back.  I quickly had LeeAnne and Parris sit down to "claim" it and I scurried off to tell the rest of our crew that we had a primo spot from which to take in the concert.  We were all high-fiving and enjoying our new digs when real estate agent extraordinaire Doris Jacobs comes over to our table and says, "Um, I think you're at my table..." DOH! Fortunately, the table right next to hers was half empty so she and her husband sat there with pals, Pat Holder of GrandLuxe magazine and her date and all was well. At least we stole a table from someone we knew... and we all had a great time chatting back and forth.

LeeAnne Locken, Cynthia Smoot, Steve Kemble and Jarrod Fresquez

Alan Peppard nailed it in his Sunday column when he said of Blake Shelton's performance, "He would have been within his rights to take Cattle Baron’s performance fee without playing a note. The ground was too soft and soaked for his band’s equipment and the steady rain never let up for a second. But he walked out on the main stage (under a freshly constructed tent) with a beer in one hand and a guitar in the other. “I’m not a guitar player at all,” he said apologetically. “I don’t know how to play a lot of my songs. So, y’all are gonna drink and act like you like it and I’m gonna play guitar and act like I’m good at it.”  And then a little magic dust fell.

It turns out that Blake Shelton is better than competent with country guitar’s three-chord canon. And his powerful, soaring voice doesn’t require double-tracking, Auto-Tune or backup singers.  By the time he got to his first No. 1 hit, “Austin,” he had taken ahold of everybody. Melancholy tunes like “Home,” were mixed with rowdy numbers like “Some Beach” and “Kiss My Country ***” and laced with the occasional admission, “I’ve been drinking tonight.”  I don't normally listen to country music, so I was surprised at how many of his songs I knew and we all sang along and had a marvelous time.

Through their partnership with the American Cancer Society, Cattle Baron's hope to give cancer the boot – for good. Over the past 39 years, Cattle Baron’s Ball has raised nearly $48 million towards the ongoing pursuit of a cure for cancer, and most of that has stayed right here in North Texas.  Peppard also reported that, "What started out as a mildly irritated and discomfited audience ended up being a group who opened their wallets and set a Cattle Baron’s auction record: $841,000 spent at the live auction, with several hundred thousand more dropped at the silent auction. As of Sunday afternoon, the take was over $1.2 million and climbing." So, apparently other people made it over to the silent auction tent and weren't weenies like me.

I ended up having a good time, but when I said it was my first time attending to anyone last night, there immediate response was, "Oh, you have to come back. This is not at all what Cattle Baron's is usually like...". So, I think I'm going to pretend like I still haven't been to a REAL Cattle Baron's Ball and hopefully I will get invited again next year to experience the magic under clear, starry skies.