SHERIDAN — Food is not exempt from trends and the 2017 Keystone Awards is no exception. The 2017 event will introduce some au courant hors d’oeuvres as part of the evening’s festivities on April 20 at the WYO Theater.
The Keystone Awards honors individuals for their contributions to community. The night fetes honorees with live entertainment, tribute videos to each honoree, music, personal introductions and an after-party. And there’s the reception prior to the show with more music…and food.
The Keystone Awards are not like many other award events.
This is the seventh year for the Keystone Awards. The awards were organized by the Sheridan Senior Center as a fundraiser to support the center’s services to elders living at home in the community. The Senior Center was started by a group of volunteers in 1972.
“We were trying to think of a ‘fun-raiser’ for the Senior Center,” Keystone event chair Rindy West said. “We want to celebrate the lifetime of achievement of service to community.”
West is the development director for the Senior Center.
“The first idea was a roast but realized that something celebratory was better,” West said. “Volunteers Ky Dixon and Carmen Rideout had seen the Kennedy Center Honors and we decided to pattern the Keystone Awards after that. The idea took off.”
Dixon was the executive director for the Sheridan Senior Center prior to Rideout stepping into that position in February 2000.
The 2011 and 2012 Keystone Awards were at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. From the first year, the evening included live entertainment, food and a reception along with tributes to the honorees. The event moved to the WYO Theater in 2013 and was the first event to utilize the newly constructed Mars Theater when it opened.
In 2013, the event introduced Keys to the Stone honorees celebrating outstanding students from the five county high schools and Sheridan College.
While new honorees are spotlighted, new venues, new entertainment and the food provide supporting roles to the evening.
Nine subcommittees comprise the larger overall Keystone Awards committee. The event food committee selects the food and the caterer. Volunteer Georgia Boley, a self-proclaimed “foodie” and a registered dietitian, was naturally drawn to role. Boley has overseen the event’s menu for four years.
The committee selected Red Velvet Bakery to cater the 2017 event. Boley and bakery owner Wayne Gable have been working together on the menu for months. They begin with a look at foods that complement each other.
“Knowing how amazing Wayne has done in the past, it’s pretty easy,” Boley said.
Gable was trying and tweaking some of the evening’s offerings a week in advance of the event and brought Boley in for her input.
“It’s fun to work with a creative fellow-foodie like Wayne,” Boley said. “He has a passion for fresh food that’s novel and delicious.”
Gable is preparing more than 3,600 individual bites for an anticipated attendance of 300 that includes honorees, guests, dignitaries, sponsors and the community.
The hors d’oeuvres menu this year features chicken tacos, pork tacos, Romain Thai veggie boats, shrimp, baked jalapeños with cream cheese and bacon, homemade cookies and a variety of gelato cups that will be offered during the honoree reception. The honoree reception is from 6-7 p.m. prior to the entertainment at 7:30 p.m.
The honoree reception and live entertainment are included in the event ticket price. Tickets are $75 per person with a special $35 price for students, military personnel and individuals registered with the Senior Center.
The 2017 Keystone honorees are child advocate Reta Onstott, philanthropist Jacomien Mars, and former Sheridan Mayor Jim Wilson. Mars’ husband and fellow philanthropist, Forrest Mars, will be honored posthumously this year. From 2011 to 2016, 19 individuals have been honored as Keystone honorees. The 2017 Awards will raise the number to 23 honorees.
The 2017 Keys to the Stone are students Frank Bacca (Sheridan College), Kylar Klaahsen (Arvada-Clearmont High School), Paden Koltiska (Sheridan High School), Sierra McCoy (Tongue River High School), Whitney Migrants (Fort Mackenzie High School) and Tanner Warder (Big Horn High School).
By Lois Bell
Sheridan Senior Center