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Chamber set for annual banquet

In what has become one of McDuffie County's most famous traditions, local business leaders, elected officials, and Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce members will gather Tuesday night for the 32nd Annual Chamber Banquet at Belle Meade Country Club.

An evening of food, music, and entertainment will be provided for those in attendance, including a performance by Dr. Holiday, the Hilarious Hypnotist.

Chamber Director Carolyn Gilbert said that the easygoing nature of the banquet is one of the things that sets it apart.

"It's just a way to recognize people in the community, and this one is going to be a lot of fun. Ours is not a real long, boring thing. ... It's not open to just our chamber members but just for people to get together and celebrate our year," she said.

Several awards will be handed out Tuesday, including the Small Businessperson of the Year Award and the coveted Darrell Johnson Award, which has been given every year since 1986.

"The award was set up as the citizen of the year. ... It's religious, civic, social, and is a complete life in all aspects. It's somebody who goes beyond the call of duty to give back to the city and the county," said Chamber member Rusty Lovelace, who won the award in 1993.

City Councilman Ken Usry won the award last year, which is named after the well-known auto businessman and civic leader. Mr. Johnson helped start the Chamber of Commerce in the 1960s.

Chamber President Mary Anne Coussons said that the Darrell Johnson Award, like the banquet itself, is just one of those things that's become a trademark of the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce.

"In this area, Darrell Johnson was someone well thought of, and for those two awards to be given that night, that's just a really big deal," she said. "This is considered our elegant night. There have been things here and there that have been done away with, but we've always had an annual banquet. It's just a mainstay."

Web posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004

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