Annual Banquet 2005
With the season's biggest snowstorm threatening overhead, 478 Connecticut Hunter and Jumper Association members and their families attended the 36th Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday night, February 11, 2006 at the Hartford Hilton in the State's Capital.
Banquet Chairman Sherry Lynch once again displayed her talent and attention to detail as she orchestrated what was the CHJA's most elegant affair ever! The evening began at 6:30 with a reception for the CHJA celebrators. While the wind howled outside, the guests of the CHJA Board of Directors sampled hor oeuvres, wine and a special table that featured a children's punch.
Guests loved the beautiful album created by Tara Lynch which displayed photos from the 35 previous Banquets. Also on display was a collage featuring the highlights of last year's banquet and award presentations. As always the generosity of the membership was evidenced by the large assortment of items donated for the Scholarship Raffle which would later be conducted by Jane Miller, President of the CHJA Scholarship Fund.
At 7:30, the doors to the Hilton's Grand Ballroom were opened. New Banquet Committee member Robin Vinson had helped to beautifully decorate the tables with shimmering gold lanterns and candle light. At each place setting there was a gift. Sherry and Tara had painstakingly assembled 500 small burgundy and gold picture frames featuring the new CHJA logo being introduced that night! While members dined on filet mignon or stuffed chicken breast, Mark Pederson, of Quickshots Photography, presented a slide show featuring candid photos of the CHJA members at horse shows over the last year.
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 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 proudly presented the award to Jane Dow, who has volunteered her time in service to the CHJA as a member of its Board of Directors since 1972. In 1999 she was elected President of the organization, a position she held until 2002.
The 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. Colleen Sullivan was honored as this year's winner! She is described by her friends as someone that is "always quick to lend an extra pair of hands and offer both guidance and assistance whenever needed to all member of the Mystic Valley Hunt Club Family."
Armand continued his duties as Master of Ceremonies by announcing Cynthia Jensen 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. Cynthia is currently the CHJA Secretary and serves on the Standards and Scholarship Committees. She refers to herself as a "professional volunteer" and has been a member of the CHJA Board of Directors since 2000.
The Cliff Gustafson Award was next to be presented. This new annual award was developed in the memory of Cliff Gustafson, whose friendship we sadly lost last year. Cliff was a consummate horseman whose dedication, honesty and integrity inspired the development of this award which will be presented every year to someone in the horse industry possessing like quaities. A roaring round of applause accompanied the announcement of Liam P. O'Leary as the first recipient of the Cliff Gustafson Award.
As always, the 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.
Once again, 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 $40,000 to deserving CHJA members to help with their college education. Jane was pleased to award a $3,000 scholarship to Kaitlyn Kasinskas from and a $2,000 scholarship to Devon Poeta. Kaitlyn and Devon were selected a field of nine incredibly talented 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 instantly available photos of the year end award winners, their families and friends!
Awards Committee Chairman Sue Horn did an incredible job of keeping track of all of the ribbons, trophies, coolers, saddle pads, and medals that were presented. She was assisted by Awards Committee members Denise Duffee and Kelsey Amedeo. Lauren Duffee, Leah and Rebekah Chenelle also helped to distribute the many awards.
Once the awards were completed, the evening got into full swing under the direction of DJ Aaron Burke. By now the snow was falling heavily. but not hard enough to put an early end to the evening's celebration!
Photo Credit Quickshots Photography
Click on Banquet Program to view and print the program!
Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to make the 2005 CHJA Annual Banquet such a magical evening!
Sherry Lynch-Banquet Chairman
Jessica Roth Thomas