It was a night of comboys, villians, music, awards and socializing at the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's 69th annual meeting Friday night.
A musical presentation, "Boots, Belles & Black Tie," was the highlight of the event, in which about 600 chamber members sang songs and cheered award winners at a packed house in Liberty Hall.
"I think people are having a great time," said Judy Wright, chair of the chamber's annual meeting committee. "Ric Averill has just outdone himself."
Averill, director of the Seem-to-be Players, wrote and directed this year's musical presentation, a western that told the story of a saloon in Lawrence in 1875.
THE STORY centered on the fate of the saloon, the ownership of which was being sought by heroine Flora Belle, played by Wright, and villain Big Bad Billy Q, played by Gary Toebben, president of the chamber.
Kansas University Chancellor Gene Budig played Lt. Col. "Aristotle" Oread, and he was prompted to say: ``This is the toughest crowd that I've worked since commencement."
Between monologues and songs in the presentation, outgoing chamber chair Hank Booth and incoming chair David Evans presented awards.
The 1992 Citizen of the Years award was presented to Emily Taylor, emeritus dean of women at KU.
"GIVEN THE podium, I have this terrible desire to tell an audience everything I know," quipped Taylor.
"I was going to tell you the three most becoming events in the history of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce but I can't remember them," she said, bringing laughter from the crowd. "I've learned that most members of the chamber spend half their time talking and the other half not listening."
Arly Allen, president of Allen Press, received the 1992 Business Person of the Year Award.
THE 1992 hospitality award went to Reuter Pipe Organ Co., received by Albert Neutel, president of Reuter Organ. The Buford Watson Public Service Award, named after Lawrence's former city manager, went to George Williams, Lawrence public works director. The 1992 Agriculture Supporter Award went to Rusty Springer, retired Lawrence businessman. The 1992 Wally Galluzzi Award went to Steve Figuieras, of Keating and Associates, Inc. The Business and Arts Award was given to Mainline Printing Inc.; it was received by John Parker, president of the company.
A volunteer team from Kansas University received recognition for increasing the chamber's membership over the past year. The team was made up of Jim Long, team captain; Charla Jenkins, Janet Riley, and Tim Bengtson. They brought in 25 new members, totaling just more than $5,000 in new member sales.
THE MEETING began at the Eldridge Hotel, where members and dined and socialized before walking to Liberty Hall.
After the musical presentation, participants returned to the Eldridge for dancing and more socializing.
Ann Wiklund, director of membership and communication for the chamber, said the annual meeting was "a celebration of Lawrence."
"It has been a good business year for Lawrence at a time when business has not been so good in the rest of the country," she said.
In his opening remarks as new chamber chair, Evans said the organization has two goals for the coming year: the establishment of a countywide economic strategy, and a program that will link business and education needs.
"Our future successes will depend on the leadership we exhibit today," he said.