It was an afternoon of surprises and tie-dyed shirts during the Nederland Heritage Festival’s annual mixer on Thursday.
The mixer is a kick-off to the festival with events sprinkled in from February to the start date in March. But first some special people were recognized for their work with the community and the NHF.
Wanda Hollier, manager of the NHF, explained to the crowd that all of the past ‘Mr. Nederland’s’ got together to select a special person who gives back to the community. The task, she said, is not an easy one.
Hollier dropped a few hints at the identity of the honoree, such as “teaching” and “touching the lives of children” before making the announcement — Stuart Kieschnick, Nederland Independent School District assistant superintendent, is the 2013 Mr. Nederland.
As applause erupted Kieschnick walked to a spot near Hollier and addressed the group.
“I’m following a special group of people who go a lot of good things,” Kieschnick said. “I’m proud to be considered in that realm of men.”
Later, when speaking outside the building, Kieschnick said he was very surprised to be named Mr. Nederland.
“Nederland is very unique, it’s like no other place,” he said. “People work together well here, from schools to the festival to churches and it all goes back to the kids.”
The kids, who grow up to be successful adults, tend to stay in the city and continue their service to the community for another generation.
The mixer is also a time to dedicate the NHF program to a volunteer who goes above and beyond. This year Sharon Miller was that honoree.
Shannon Hemby, chairman, had Miller come forward on the pretense of presenting a small bouquet that she had crafted to the winner. Then her name was announced.
“Woo, I made my own flower,” Miller said with a laugh before getting a hug from Hemby.
Hemby explained that Miller had been around the festival for more years then people may realize and that she doesn’t like the limelight.
It was Miller’s daughter that conned her into coming to the event on Thursday. A florist, Miller created the bouquet and gave it to her daughter Megan Landry to bring to the festival office.
“She called and said everybody has to be here and I had to be here to present the flowers,” Miller said, adding she was very surprised and honored. “I’m speechless. I love being here.
This marks the 40th anniversary of the festival and this year’s theme is “Peace, Love, Heritage Festival.” NHF officers and volunteers in attendance were clad in this year’s T-shirt which is tie-dyed and features the new logo.
For more information about the festival, call 724-2269.