It's not a secret that I love attending parties. Actually, I almost like giving them as much, the only deterrent being that there's so much more work involved than just showing up and being a bon vivant. So when the kind folks at Spangler Candy Co. informed me of the 100 th year bash, I made sure I found my dancing shoes.
Let's face it, what's a party without the key essentials: good food, plenty of booze, good music, and a host of personalities.
Having interviewed and chatted with Dean Spangler during
the past couple of years, I figured he was the kind of fellow that
would ensure all those essentials were in place. Knowing his strengths,
Dean wisely left those details to his wife, Ann, and Diana Moore
Eschhofen, the company's marketing manager.
And while the drive from Chicago's Edison Park
neighborhood to Bryan, Ohio, took a wee bit longer -- thanks to ongoing
construction in the Windy City -- it was well worth the time to
rediscover Small Town and Rural America.
But once we checked into the Holiday Inn Express off of
Interstate 80, just a Dum Dum's throw from the Indiana/Ohio border,
there wasn't any need to worry about traffic. Taking Route 15 to Bryan,
Ohio and then to the Orchard Hill Country Club, once again reinforced
how pleasant a drive in the country can be.
A few turns here and there and we came upon the country
club, appropriately festooned with a large white Genghis Khan-like tent
gracing the grounds. A welcoming committee ushered us into the club,
and once inside the banquet hall, my wife, Basia, and I began
exploring. Looking quite the dandy in his elegant tuxedo, Chairman
Emeritus Greg Spangler greeted guests coming to the anniversary bash. I
re-introduced myself and the company's long-standing leader, now
retired, welcomed us warmly.
We continued on and begin exploring. One of the first
things that caught our eyes were the wonderful little square vases with
carnations and Dum-Dum mixing sticks brightening the tables (Diana,
there may be one missing from your inventory).
As we scanned the room, several television monitors
displayed an ongoing Spangler video depicting the company's history and
current operations. And right smack dab in front of us, a huge, and I
mean, huge, Spangler shrimp stand beckoning guests to grab and dip.
Dare I go on, but I must. We checked out the two
sumptuous dessert tables separated by a multi-decked birthday cake,
several food stands, including a sushi table, and, of course, the
well-tended and well-supplied beer and wine bar.
Being a wannabe wine snob, I sauntered over to check out
the selections. Well, even though I am no Robert Parker, the high-end
labels were out tonight. After some casual sipping, Basia and I were
ready to venture outside and check out the tent area.
But before we left the banquet room, a "walking table" happened to cruise by.
Call me sheltered if you'd like, but I had never seen a
"walking table" before. Rather than get into a debate about who's
worldly and who's not, I simply explain the walking table concept: it's
a server that's dressed up as a round serving table. More importantly,
that table's filled with hors d'oeuvres.
At first, it's kind of strange picking up edibles from
someone's costume, but you quickly get past that novel experience.
Bruschetta in hand, the missus and I continued out of the banquet hall,
onto the outdoor balcony, then down the steps toward the tent.
There, several tables were laid out on the perimeter. A
stage touting the evening's entertainment, a dance band known as the
"Images" from Cleveland , promised some "high steppin'".
The large portable parquet floor encouraged folks to
strut their stuff. A cheese and bread stand in front of the parquet
floor was there to help replenish those who needed a bit more energy to
bust a move.
Our program guide indicated that Ohio's governor, Bob
Taft, great-grandson to President William H. Taft, would say some
remarks at 7 p.m. Yes, he's actually part of that illustrious Ohio
family and a two-term governor.
Luckily, my good friend, Pat Hurley, former Candy Industry
Kettle winner (class of 2000) and director of technical services at
Spangler, introduced me to the gov. Interestingly, he's not running for
another term . Taft that is, not Hurley-- having decided to focus on
educational issues come January 2007.
Ohio Senator Mike DeWine also was there, congratulating
Dean and everyone at Spangler for their contributions in ensuring the
company's success in a truly competitive and global environment.
There were quite a few folks at the affair, about
500-plus, but some of my more memorable discussions included Bob
Huzniec, Hershey's senior staff scientist, and his wife, Ann, as well
as Rich Brown and his wife, Terri, from Michigan Sugar Co.
To top off the gala, all guests leaving the 100 th
centennial bash received a book detailing Spangler's century of
progress. Entitled Sweet Century and written by local
historian William Culbertson, it proved to be the ideal favor. Next
month, my conversations with Tom and Scott Ward from Russell Stover