Boerne Chamber goes wild for awards party

The Greater Boerne Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual gala Saturday night at the Cana Ballroom. I have long referred to our local business organization as the chamber that never sleeps. Saturday night was another example why.

Three hundred thirty attendees filled the St. Peter Catholic Church event center that overlooks the hill country. Plenty of leopard prints and Crocodile Dundee wannabes maximized the 1920s era safari-themed night.

Boerne Chamber Events Director Barbara Hooks has breathed new life into the annual tradition.

“We want all our events to deliver a ‘WOW factor’ that will keep people talking,” Hooks said. “We wanted the awards party to be interactive and engaging. I think we accomplished that.”

A ten per cent attendance increase over last year was driven by twenty-eight corporate tables, up from twenty last year. Seats sold out two weeks prior to the event.

Partygoers enjoyed non-traditional entertainment including acrobats from San Antonio-based Aerial Horizon, as well as live exotic animals. An African porcupine, a python, a lemur, a kinkajou and a coatimundi roamed the cocktail hour with escorts from Happy Tails of Pipe Creek.

Even the world’s largest rodent, the capybara, made an appearance. If you’ve never seen one, it’s worth a web search.

The Flower Shoppe provided table centerpieces and crafted a near-life-sized paper mache elephant.

Chamber member chef Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria and Burgerteca fame catered the dinner through his True Flavors entity. A vertical poached pear salad and Akaushi beef pan-seared medallions exceeded expectations.

“We intentionally did a stand up dessert bar to get people up and mingling,” Hooks noted.

By the time San Antonio band Gunpowder Soup took the after-dinner stage, couples took to the dance floor, complete with karaoke mic.

As for the hardware, the evening’s corporate awards went to long-established entities while relative newcomers took home individual awards.

Frost Bank secured large business of the year while All County Home Health and Hospice won small business of the year. Non-profit of the year went to Cibolo Nature Center and Farm.

Businesswoman of the year went to insurance agent Lorelei Helmke. After fourteen years in the wine industry, Helmke purchased a Farmers Insurance shop in 2015.

Matt Nelson of Prime Capital Investment Advisors took home businessman of the year. Nelson moved his operation to Boerne in 2016.

Other award winners included Tommy Mathews of Westward Environmental (Mike Coyle Innovator Award) and Mike and Diane Arthur (Kendall County Air Community Award).

Outgoing Chamber board chair Baron Houser selected Misty Mayo for the Chairman’s Award. Mayo runs the Boerne Kendall County Economic Development Corporation.

“Some people say Boerne, Texas, is gone forever,” Houser bellowed. “I say it’s Boerne, Texas, better than ever!”

Ms. Hooks credited a host of sponsors for a night that went off without a hitch: Bandera Electric Cooperative, Broadway Bank, Centennial Bank, Habagallo Foods, Jefferson Bank and Journey School.

“We had very few hiccups,” Hooks recalled. “Everyone showed up on time; the food came out right. The most challenging part was finding seats for everyone who wanted to come.”

That’s like telling a job interviewer that perfectionism is your greatest weakness!

Kevin Thompson writes a weekly column for The Boerne Star and serves on the Greater Boerne Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He can be reached at

1 Response to “Boerne Chamber goes wild for awards party”

  1. 1 jessestroup February 9, 2018 at 11:13

    Kevin, Great review of the Chamber Event. Once I start reading I can hardly stop; I feel like I attended the event myself. Thank you, Jesse Jesse Stroup Director of Spiritual Care 6300 Harry Hines Blvd. BKB 101 Dallas, TX 75235 (888) 767-6363


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