The moment she saw her niece sitting in the crowd at the 18th annual Administrative Professional's Banquet, Cindy Jones figured something was up.
"I saw my niece, and she's not a secretary... So I was suspicious. I'm very excited, I'm flattered," she said after the banquet.
Emilie Tobias (right) and Val Ganiev dance during the banquet.
Mrs. Jones - the rehabilitation assistant with the Georgia Department of Labor Vocational Rehabilitation Program - was named McDuffie County's Administrative Professional of theYear during last Wednesday's luncheon at the Box Factory.
More than 250 people attended the event hosted by the Thomson McDuffie Chamber of Commerce.
The banquet meal was prepared by Kenneth Usry. Local businessmen, many who were bosses of the administrative professionals in attendance, served as waiters. The audience experienced reality TV, McDuffie County style, during the entertainment.
Professional ballroom dancers from The Ballroom Dance Center in Evans performed the "Dancing With the Stars" segment.
"We know that you all keep Thomson running, so why don't you give yourselves a hand?" Emilie Tobias, the owner, said before they began their program. The audience cheered and whooped for Ms. Tobias and her partner, Val Ganiev, as they performed brief samples of the tango, fox trot, waltz, swing, mambo and cha-cha. Ms. Tobias explained each dance, and the challenges they face during competitions.
An audience member covers her face as Tom Jones (John Guinn) sings to her.
"We do a lot of work for two minutes of glamour," she said.
When their dance routine took them too close to one of the tables, waiter Mickey Young twirled alongside them with his pitcher of iced tea.
"I used to dance like that all the time, but then I quit drinking," Mr. Young said to the people laughing around the table he was serving.
Following the dancers, exclusive amusement was provided by the Thomson Idol Show, with Chamber President Brad Adams as host Ryan Seacrest, Butch Baston as judge Simon Cowell, Bill Beckum as judge Paula Abdul, and Darryl Sneed as judge Randy Jackson. Contestants included Mike Carrington posing as Jimmy Buffet, John Guinn as Tom Jones, Trent Henderson as Blind Willie Nelson, Cathy Gurlock as herself, and five students from the Thomson High School Chorus.
The judges seemed to find it difficult to stay true to their character when they had to critique nervous young people or long-time friends.
"They didn't tell me there'd be children to pick on," the infamous Mr. Cowell said after the first teen performed.
Each administrative professional in attendance received a gift certificate from White Columns Inn. Over 50 door prizes of gift certificates, Chamber Cash, gift baskets, potted plants and assorted gifts were given throughout the event.
Door prizes were provided by CSRA Federal Credit Union, Chinaberry Foods, Coca-Cola, Curtis Funeral Home, Dennis Perry Homes, Dudley Nurseries, Farmers Furniture, Fast Lane Lube, Holiday Inn, Jefferson Energy, Kay's Cut & Style, Robert E. Knox, Jr., McCorkle Nurseries, McDuffie Feed and Seed, The McDuffie Mirror, The McDuffie Progress, McFabulous, Peacock Hill, Richards' Flowers & Gifts, Allen and Judy Shapiro, Signature Salon, Stephanie's Salon, Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce, Thomson-McDuffie Realty Company, The Upper Cut, Watson-Brown Foundation and White Columns Inn.