If you listened to country music in the '90s, there's a good chance "Strawberry Wine" is still stuck in your head. The melancholy smash-hit country ballad (from a strong contender for best-named-album ever, Did I Shave My Legs for This?) made Deana Carter a star, and 23 years later, it's just as good. Some Houstonians know this first-hand thanks to Carter's performance late last month at the annual Cattle Baron's Ball, held this year at the George Ranch Historical Park.
The annual event—appropriately themed "City Lights & Bayou Nights" this year—drew more than 1,300 guests and a whopping $1.58 million for the American Cancer Society. And Carter wasn't the only country star in attendance: The night ended with another performance from Grammy-winning group Diamond Rio.
Naturally, guests wore their finest Southern duds, from cowboy boots and hats to oversized belt buckles and turquoise jewelry. Mouth-watering, Bayou City-inspired food came from Pappas Catering, including pork belly tacos, shrimp and grits, brisket and crawfish tamales, crab cakes, fried oysters, white cheddar and brisket mac 'n' cheese, and an avocado bar. Blade and Bow Bourbon trailered a covered wagon from their distillery in Louisville, Kentucky to be part of the event—one of just four a year the brand supports—and serve guests their signature "New Old Fashioned" cocktail upon arrival.
There were also Vegas-style casino games, pig races, a wine pull, a fine jewelry raffle from Zadok Jewelers, a jewelry pull with Kendra Scott baubles, a car raffle from Sonic Automotive, and silent auction items from nearly every business in the Bayou City.
The live auction, run by Mike Jones of United-Classic Auctioneers, raised more than $350,000 alone thanks to enticing items like a South African safari, Viking River Cruise, Texans VIP Super Fan Getaway, art deco earrings from Tenenbaum Jewelers, Ford F-150 Supercrew 4x4, Chevy Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss, and an evening for 100 (!) at Steak 48 with the stars of the Texas Heroes Advocating Autism Research Firefighting Calendar, who took the stage to drum up bids.
The most Texas thing of all, though, might have been the parting gift to guests for the late-night ride home: Whataburger.