In the fading light of a warm spring evening, the Orange County Chamber of Commerce retreated indoors at The Pavilion on Lakeland Farm to celebrate its 95 annual awards banquet last Thursday.
More than 225 local business leaders and representatives gathered for dinner, silent and live auctions, a guest speaker and to honor the achievements of one another.
Following a buffet dinner catered by Roadside Chive, the audience watched with rapt attention as Phil Audibert shared a clip of his “Memories” oral history project for the James Madison Museum and Orange County Historical Society. Audibert interviewed 11 Dogwood Village residents and implored the audience to gather the memories of parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors.
“Memories are our most precious possessions besides our children,” he said. “By collecting those memories, we are keeping them alive.”
He wondered what the thoughts of those who founded the chamber 95 years ago would be had they been collected and preserved.
“There are hundreds—no, thousands—of stories that need to be told and everyone knows someone whose memories should be collected before death or dementia robs them,” he said. “I can’t do it alone.”
Everyone in the audience has the ability to collect those stories, he said holding up his iPhone. “Turn on the recorder and let it run. Have a conversation. You’ll make it possible for them to leave their legacy and then hope someone will do the same one day for you.”
Following Audibert’s challenge, the chamber then recognized those members who had distinguished themselves over the last year.
The business person of the year award was a tie between Pat Licata of Licata Group/KW Realty and Rhonda and John Jenkins of Orange County Roasters.
The agri-business of the year award went to Sharon and Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards, with Sharon and Shannon Horton accepting.
The Susie Miller Community Service Award was presented to Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and its “Big Heart” program.
The William Carrington Business and Education Partnership was presented to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orange County Public Schools.
The awards culminated with Patty Talley, of Dogwood Village, being recognized with a standing ovation as she received the John L. Stanley Award for Excellence.