Annual Banquet 2004
484 Connecticut Hunter and Jumper Association members and their families attended the 35th Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday night, January 15th, 2005 at the Radisson Cromwell in Cromwell, Connecticut. The evening was beautifully orchestrated thanks to the long hours and attention to detail put forth by new Banquet Co-Chairmen Sherry and Tara Lynch.
Hosted by the Officers and the Board of Directors of the CHJA, the elegant evening began at 5:30 with a reception including hor deurvres, wine and a special table that featured a children's punch. There was always a crowd around a table featuring a beautiful album with photos and pictures from all of the past CHJA Banquets. Tara Lynch, the CHJA Historian as well as Banquet Co-Chairman, used her creativity to design the album as well as a poster with pictures highlighting last year's banquet and award presentations. You may have seen the album and poster she created at this year's Medal Finals as well. As always the generosity of the membership was evidenced by the large assortment of items donated for the Scholarship Raffle. Our beautifully attired junior members spent their time examining the items and making wish lists!
At 6:30, the doors to the Grand Ballroom were opened and Sherry and Tara Lynch had worked their magic! The tables were beautifully decorated with gold lanterns and burgundy dried flowers. Members dined on filet mignon, chicken montpelier, vegetable strudel or children's chicken. CHJA President and Master of Ceremonies Armand Chenelle began the awards ceremony promptly at eight by introducing the Officers and members of the Board of Directors.
The first award presented was the CHJA Glenn Duffee President's Award. This special award, in memory of Glen Duffee, is presented annually to recognize and honor someone who has given unselfishly to our sport and the CHJA, above and beyond personal interests. The recipient of this award is chosen by the CHJA President to be honored by the membership at the banquet. President Armand Chenelle assisted Denise and Lauren Duffee as they presented the award to Karen Amedeo, honoring her for her work as the CHJA Treasurer, and for her guiding hand in the development and maintenance of the CHJA official website.
The coveted CHJA Sportsmanship Award is presented annually to an Amateur or Junior member whose character best exemplifies the qualities of decency, fair play and graciousness in victory or defeat. The selected winner remains a secret until the night of the banquet. When Meg Wilkison from Windcrest Farm opened the program book, she was surprised to see her picture as this year's winner! Meg was also one of last year's scholarship award recipients. She received a standing ovation as she made her way to the stage to accept the award.
Armand Chenelle continued his duties as Master of Ceremonies by announcing Susan Horn as the recipient of the CHJA Distinguished Service Award. Also a surprise, this award is presented annually as an expression of the Board of Directors appreciation for a member who has made extraordinary contribution to the association. Sue is currently the Third Vice president of the CHJA and has served on the Equitation, Standards and Awards Committees. Her husband, Ray and many friends loudly cheered and applauded her as she made her way to the stage to accept the award.
As always, the 2004 Lead Line winners took the spotlight and our hearts as they assembled to receive their awards. In no hurry to leave the stage, they smiled and posed for the pictures taken by proud parents. Emcee Armand Chenelle finally announced that there would be additional "photo ops" for these "celebrities" a little later...but the show must go on! As their proud parents applauded, they reluctantly left the stage with big smiles and their arms full of ribbons and awards.
Jane Miller, CHJA Board member and President of the Scholarship Fund had the difficult job of following the lead liners as she took over the microphone to introduce the Scholarship Fund Board of Directors. Since its inception in 1989, the CHJA Scholarship Fund has awarded over $33,000 to deserving CHJA members to help with their college education. Jane was pleased to award this year's scholarship winners, Kacie Hare with $2,500 and Victoria Valenti with $1,500. The girls were also presented with bouquets and plaques. Kacie and Victoria were selected from a field of 12 applicants based on their academic performance, letters of recommendation and a personal essay.
After the Scholarship presentation, Master of Ceremonies, Armand Chenelle announced the winners of each division. As the winners made their way to the stage, parents and friends were not far behind capturing the moment with their cameras. Photographer Mark Pederson and his staff were on hand to take photos of the year end award winners, their families and group barn photos! Everyone was excited to discover that the photos were instantly available thanks to Mark's state of the art equipment!
Once again Board Members Sue Horn and Jessica Roth Thomas, the Awards Committee Chairmen, did an incredible job of keeping track of all of the ribbons, trophies, coolers, saddle pads, and medals that were presented. This year they were assisted by Kelsey Amedeo. The generosity of the CHJA members was apparent as many different individuals, farms, tack shops and families were announced as having sponsored a division.
Once the awards were completed, the evening got into full swing under the direction of DJ Aaron Burke. Thanks to a decision to move the banquet to a facility with a bigger ballroom there was plenty of room to dance! The dance floor was a whirl of bright colors and happy faces..but we overheard the Banquet and Awards Committee members already planning next year's event!
A very special thank you to Banquet Co-Chairman Sherry and Tara Lynch and all of the Committee members for their part in such a wonderful evening!
Photo Credit to Quickshots Photography by Mark Pedersen.