Photo Special to Alachua County Today
The Alachua Lions Club held its largest charity fundraiser of the year to a packed house at Santa Fe River Ranch, just outside of Alachua.
ALACHUA – It was another fun filled evening of laughter, good food and music at the 77th Annual Alachua Lions Club Cattlemen’s Banquet Tuesday night.
The locally renowned banquet was held for the third year at the Santa Fe River Ranch. Also included in the night’s festivities was a social hour and a silent auction leading up to the main event, as well as a live auction afterward.
Opening the banquet and welcoming guests was Alachua Lions Club President Joel DeCoursey, Jr., followed by the tradition of Lion Gussie Lee leading the crowd in singing “God Bless America.”
DeCoursey then handed off the evening’s agenda to Master of Ceremonies Chuck Clemons, Vice President for Advancement at Santa Fe College and an Alachua native.
Before presentation of the Cattleman’s award, Clemons used his time at the podium to share a few jokes and offer a good ribbing to some in attendance, eliciting roars of laughter from the crowd.
Alan Hitchcock, former owner of Hitchcock’s Markets and current owner of Santa Fe River Ranch, was honored as this year’s Cattleman of the Year, something that Clemons emphasized was a total surprise for Hitchcock.
“This was obviously a surprise for me when you look at my attire,” Hitchcock said, poking fun at himself.
The Keynote Speaker was University of Florida President Dr. Kent Fuchs. Dr. Fuchs related personal stories regarding his family background with farming and cattle ranching and emphasized the importance of the cattle industry in Florida’s unique history, its present, and its anticipated contributions in the future.
In keeping with tradition, the Santa Fe High School Chapter of FFA was on hand to serve up the choice aged controlled steaks, potato casserole and dessert.
The Cattlemen’s Banquet is the Alachua Lions Club’s largest fundraiser of the year, and all profits from the banquet support charitable sight, hearing, youth and community service activities within the Alachua community.
Clemons said the banquet had 33 corporate sponsorships this year, an increase from last year’s 30.
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