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“Mid America Idol” Draws Big Crowd for Awards Banquet

by Leeann Mione

OAK BROOK, Ill. - Nearly 350 people attended the Mid America Horse Show Association Awards Banquet at the Oak Brook Marriott Feb. 4, 2006.

Word of mouth after last year's tremendously successful banquet led to an increase of more than 100 people for this year's event. The agenda called for the evening to begin with dinner then proceed to the drawing of the raffle basket winners, and presentation of the UPHA Awards and MAHSA High Point Awards. Entertainment and a live auction were also part of the schedule and a large number of those in attendance stayed for dancing to conclude the evening.

Raffle tickets were sold to benefit MAHSA and with so many gorgeous baskets to be given away, those in attendance were generous with their money. Emcee Mike Bletsoe then took charge of presenting the first chapter award of the evening; the UPHA Chapter 10 Hall of Fame Induction. Mike and Dale Arnston, of Country Meadow Farm, accepted their plaque from Rick Schotthofer with daughter and son-in-law Julie Anne and Jay Wroble looking on.

Tom Bombolis, of Glenmore Farm, headed to the front of the room to meet Schotthofer and Bletsoe after he was named the UPHA Chapter 10 Horseman Of The Year.

Schotthofer was presented with the Chapter 10 Meritorious Service Award to claim the third UPHA award of the evening.

Junior Judging awards were also announced. Sammy Jo Galica was the 14-17 High Point winner and Claire Mogren won the 13 and under age group.

In anticipation of the evening's “Mid America Idol” performers, Mike Bletsoe introduced the panel that was on hand to judge each act. Straight from their wildly successful television show, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul (aka Ray Krussell and Sara Van Galder) were greeted by a huge ovation as they took their places on stage. The third member of the judging panel was not, in fact, Randy Jackson but none other than Diana Ross. Ross (aka Ron Price) entered the room in true Diva fashion and even entertained the crowd with a song before taking her place on the judging panel.

Last year's banquet featured top-notch entertainment, which was one of the reasons word of mouth led to such a big increase in attendance this year. The promise of a well-run, organized and thoroughly entertaining evening was a huge draw.

The fact that attendance was up so much this year did, however, put a lot of pressure on the various entertainers for this year's festivities. Could they top last year? That was the question everyone was asking.

When Dolly Parton (aka Donna Pettry-Smith) and Kenny Rogers (aka Lance Hayes) entered the room singing “Islands In The Stream.” It was clear that the question had been answered with a resounding “Yes”. Smith and Hayes performed nearly flawlessly and were all smiles as they waited for the judges' evaluations. Simon Cowell, of course, proclaimed their performance “dreadful” while Abdul and Ross both loved it.

After Smith and Hayes left the floor, the first group of MAHSA High Point Winners were presented. The “B” Circuit winners then gathered for a group photo before the next entertaining performer took the stage.

Allison Bailey, of The National Horseman, sang “Something To Talk About” by Bonnie Raitt and rocked the house with her sultry vocals. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Simon Cowell didn't have anything nice to say. Both Abdul and Ross, however, were completely taken with the performance.

The “A” Circuit high point winners were divided into two groups and the first group then received their awards and their group photograph,

The third and final act, like the first two, made it clear when they took the stage that they ready to entertain the crowd. Hours and hours of preparation and practice were evident right from the beginning.

“N' Stink” (aka Bob Griffin, Tom Thorpe, Jason Gershman and Christopher Huntoon) came out rockin' and sang “It's Gonna Be Me”, complete with choreography. Even bad-tempered Cowell couldn't dampen their enthusiasm and Abdul simply gushed, as did Diana Ross.

With a lot to live up to for the larger-than-expected crowd, this year's group of entertainers did not disappoint. The audience made it clear that they thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment and appreciated all the long hours of practice that went into making it great.

With four terrific items up for bid to raise money in the live auction, Hall of Fame inductee Michael Arnston then took the stage to serve as the auctioneer. The Mid America Package, which included eight separate items (six of which could be used at any Mid America show of the purchaser’s choice) was the first to be auctioned. The winning bid was $1,000.

An original full-color personalized cartoon portrait of the purchaser and their horse by artist Tom Pettry was the next item offered. The artwork will also be put on disk so it can be used for T-shirts, letterheads, screen savers, etc. That item sold for a winning bid of $650.

Dale Arnston had the winning bid of $2,100 for the media package, which included items from Saddle Horse Report and Horse World magazine, Saddle & Bridle magazine, Bluegrass Horseman and The National Horseman magazine, in addition to photos by Rick Osteen, Linda Wollaber and Brendan Heintz and a video from Traces CT.

The final item, the South Side Equestrian Weekend, was in fact the highest seller of the live auction and featured riding lessons for four at Royal Scot Stables, Country Meadow Farm, Bell View Acres and Northern Tradition Farm. Lunch, dinner and two rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn in Orland Park, Illinois were also included.

The ladies of Northern Tradition Farm, Toni Nastali, Bonnie Kegley, Pamela Slater and Connie MacQueen teamed up to secure the winning bid of $3,100.

Raising money, recognizing the achievements of a tremendous group of competitors for their successful 2005 seasons and paying tribute to members of UPHA Chapter 10 for their hard work and dedication was what the evening was all about. The great entertainment was the icing on the cake and made the evening a success all the way around.

A very dedicated bunch from UPHA Chapter 10 and Mid America Horse Show Association worked very hard to make the black tie-optional event a class act. From the gorgeous centerpieces assembled for every table, to the great food and well-run and organized schedule of events, the banquet served as a model to be followed. What a great way to celebrate last year's successes and kick off the 2006 season.    


2006 Officers
President - Carole Bart
1st Vice President - Suzanne Van Galder
2nd Vice President - Joy Meierhans
Secretary/Treasurer - Glenn Becker
Past President - Kathy Weems
Director Emeritus - John Anderson

Bea Borland
James Cooke
Jennifer DelBosque
Thomas Erffmeyer
Mary Ellen Golich
Deborah Jahn
Kristen Pettry
Diana Schaefer
Glenn Werry, Jr.

Dale Arnston
Jeanette Durant
Lori Glickman
Robert Griffin
Martha Hoyt
Scott Matton

Executive Secretary - Cheryl Rangel
A Point Coordinator - Samara Lancia
B Point Coordinator - Peg Patis
Banquet Co-Chairmen - Kristen Pettry, Dale Arnston

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