Approximately 600 community members sampled Wise County in the Taste of Wise at the Decatur Civic Center Thursday and raised more than $6,000 for the Look Local Task Force campaign.
That is 150 people more than attended last year’s event, which is a “great success” in the eyes of event organizers.
“We never could have imagined this kind of turnout,” said Susan Miller, chair of the event told the crowd. “This is great. Local merchants formed this task force to promote our local businesses and encourage you to go to local restaurants and shop with our local merchants. I would say we were very much successful.”
Participating eateries included Dos Chiles, the Civic Center, Brownie Points, Bono’s, Greenwood Store, Atomic Rooster, Brookshire’s, Chili’s, Ice House Liquor, Fuzzy’s Taco, Reunion on the Square, Acapulco’s, Subway, Raymond’s, One Stop, Cow Camp, Verona’s, Wise Liquors, Prada Bistro and X-Chan Thai Sushi Bistro.
A new feature at this year’s event was the Ms. Senior Wise County Pageant.
“We wanted to get retail merchants involved, not just restaurants,” Miller said.
Local businesses sponsored 11 local women age 65 and older, and local retailers donated materials for the pageant such as clothes, shoes, jewelry and flower arrangements.
The competition included casual and Sunday dress, along with answering a question by the master of ceremonies, Jay Craddock.
Winner of the pageant was Nellie Redwine, sponsored by the Decatur Chamber of Commerce and escorted by her son, Chico Fire Chief James “Poncho” Redwine. The first Taste of Wise Ms. Senior Wise was named Miss Wise County in 1963 and withdrew from the running for Miss Texas to marry her sweetheart, James, who proudly cheered from the crowd Thursday.
They have three children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Redwine was selected by a panel of three judges in the crowd. The People’s Choice vote, determined by voter ballot box in which $1 equaled one vote, accounted for 50 percent of the contestant’s score. Redwine alone collected $1,140.
Judges were J.D. Clark, Chico mayor and high-school history teacher at Bowie who is completing his master’s degree in educational leadership at Midwestern State University; Mauria Dillard, a speech pathologist, Vault Denim gold director and top 10 finalist in the Miss Texas pageant; and Betty Carson, a retired longtime educator born and raised in Decatur who serves on the Wise Area Relief Mission board, as president of the Decatur Library Board, vice president of the Wise County Retired School Personnel association, on the Main Street Committee and in her church.
Contestants elected Marguarette Roberts, sponsored by Wise Regional Health System, as Miss Congeniality. She and Redwine were crowned by the 2007 Miss Senior Wise, Martha Freeman of Decatur.
“I’ve met such nice people since being crowned in 2007,” she told the crowd. “Being civic-minded, I became involved in our community to make a difference. I petitioned and got a new sign on a county road, wrote letters to the editor … played the piano at three banquets, showcased my owl collection at the library and wore my sash and crown to the Old Settlers Reunion … and I learned that if you give from the heart, you receive so much more.”
Other pageant contestants and their sponsors include:
- Mary Helen Casillas, The Community Bank – Bridgeport
- Oneta Dethloff, Wise County Sheriff’s Office
- Dot Fowler, Edward Jones Investments – Randy Bowker, Decatur
- Peggy Goodwin, Radio Shack, iCopy – Bridgeport, Decatur
- Polly Huddleston, Edward Jones Investments – Jay Craddock, Bridgeport
- Marita Marney, Mann Refrigeration
- Wanda Morrison, First Financial Bank – Decatur, Bridgeport, Boyd
- Elaine Talley, Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce
- Virginia Williams, James Wood Motors – Decatur, Bridgeport
They were each escorted by local civil service men – sheriff’s office deputies, firefighters and a police chief.
“Everything was great,” said Tiffany Evans, Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and member of the Look Local Task Force. “Everybody was very pleased at how everything was run. It was a great event with a great turnout.”
According to Miller, every dollar raised at the event goes to organizing events to promote local businesses and educating the community on the importance of looking local.
The Task Force was formed a year ago by participating chambers of commerce, economic development corporations, Main Street programs and other business groups.