Cancer sucks, but country rocks. That was the motto for the thousands of Texans who filed into Gilley’s for the 41st annual Cattle Baron’s Ball featuring a special performance by Kenny Chesney.
Co-chairs Cindy Stager and Jill Tananbaum kicked off the evening by welcoming extra-special guests to a VIP party, where Sam Moore performed while guests nibbled on bites provided by Truluck’s and Sprinkles and sipped the night’s signature Grey Goose cocktail, “The Good Stuff,” named after one of Chesney’s hit singles. VIPs could also pre-register for the live auction and buy raffle tickets before the rest of the partygoers arrived.
When the doors officially opened, guests — including Sunie Solomon, Maggie Cooke Kipp, LeeAnne Locken, Katy and Lawrence Bock, Melissa and Bob Rountree, Lynn McBee, Richard and Susanne Rawlings, and Candy Evans — piled into the venue and enjoyed a variety of foods, including cracked pepper shrimp on green chile grit cakes, Shiner Bock chili pie, beef brisket, and more. A few even braved the long line to ride the Ferris wheel.
During the opening hour, Mockingbird Sun played their version of down-home country music on the indoor stage. Then it was time for attendees to open up their wallets for the live auction, which featured packages such a barbecue dinner for 30 with some of Dallas’ premier chefs (think Kent Rathbun and Dean Fearing) a trip to London to watch the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, a Kentucky Derby weekend with Longines watches, the Ultimate Dallas Mavericks experience, and more.
Then it was time for Chesney to take the Andrews Distributing Main Stage, and his set didn’t disappoint. This eight-time CMA winner — who has sold more than 30 million albums — energized the crowd as his way of thanking Dallasites for helping to find a cure for cancer. In fact, although the official totals aren’t in yet, Chesney let the crowd know that they had succeeded in raising a record amount of money for the American Cancer Society. And if Chesney says it, it’s taken as gospel around here.
Once Chesney exited the stage to a roaring standing ovation, it was time for the after-party, where night owls spurred on, dancing to the beats of the Studio 54 Band and enjoying some late-night bites such as biscuits and country gravy, skillet potatoes, crispy fried steak strips, and cinnamon rolls. Only in Texas, baby.
Guests finally started to leave around 2 am — but not without a bag filled to the brim with swag such as Cattle Baron’s Ball T-shirts, hats and coozies; BeGlammed promotional cards; Mercedes Benz journals; South Walton Beach toasting glasses and recipe books; funky phone chargers and lighters; and various other goodies.
Since 1974, the Cattle Baron’s Ball has raised nearly $60 million for cancer research, the majority of which is conducted in Dallas-Fort Worth.