A hearty serving of thanks

Robby Bullock, 8, (left) and Sean Wedel, 12, both from Canyon City, greet dinner guests and have them sign-in for door prizes Saturday night during the annual volunteer appreciation dinner inside the pavilion at the Grant County Fairgrounds. The Eagle/Jill Mallory

JOHN DAY - Thank you.

"That's what this evening is all about, saying thank you to all the people who volunteer at the fairgrounds, not just during the fair, but all year," said Carolyn Stout, director of the fairgrounds and on this particular night, the chief cook and bottle washer for a banquet that served close to 200 people.

The occasion was the fairgrounds' annual appreciation dinner, held Nov. 6 inside the pavilion.

As guests walked through the doors, they were greeted by Robby Bullock, 8, and Sean Wedel, 12, who handed out the evening's program and made sure names were added to the drawing for door prizes.

The pair had ready answers when asked what was the best thing about volunteering.

"You get to meet new people," Robby said.

"Helping Miss Carolyn," Sean said.

There wasn't an award for the year's best volunteer because everyone who donates their time is important, Stout said.

"But this year we're starting an annual award. It's called the T and A Award," she said. "Think and act. A lot of people talk about doing something, but often nothing gets done.

The award was named for volunteer Sammie Laurance, who was also the first honoree, but couldn't attend the banquet.

"She's done so much for us," Stout said.

Someone else who has donated a lot of time and energy to the fairgrounds is Kathleen Lee, of Hudson Insurance, Stout said.

"She and Betsy, they handle all our pre-sale tickets for the fair," Stout said.

Helping in the kitchen were Julie Bullock and her daughters, Caitlin and Lindsay, who were quick to say that Stout did most of the work, and there were some others who didn't want their names in the paper.

"So many who volunteer don't want a big deal made out of it," Stout said.

Also working behind the scenes was Lisa Hunter, the director's assistant, who, Stout said she couldn't do without.

In a simple, private moment away from the crowd, Stout presented a quilt to Hunter for "all her hard work."

On the quilt were the words, "Cowboy Boots, Country Roots," which was the theme of the 2004 Grant County Fair.

Hunter immediately deflected any praise to Stout.

"Carolyn did all the cooking, smoked the beef and pork, made the pasta, coleslaw and beans, everything," Hunter said.

Hunter has worked at the fairgrounds since 2000, and has learned a variety of things.

"I now know plumbing and how to coordinate a large event," Hunter said. "I'm still working on the electrical. It's a hands-on job, and Carolyn is amazing to work with."

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