He made tremendous improvements last fall when the Statesboro Kiwanis Club celebrated its 50th Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair. He also brought the club its first Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo, which was a resounding success in that it was a sold-out show both nights. And Thursday, six-year member Don Poe was named the 2011 Kiwanian of the Year.
The honor came during the club’s 52nd annual anniversary party held at the Kiwanis fairgrounds community center. As Poe took the stage, he received a standing ovation. True to his nature, he hammed it up a little.
“Hey, I’m seldom at a loss for words, and tonight I’m still not at a loss for words,” he said. “I just enjoy working with you guys. You’re a good bunch of people.”
Afterwards, he explained why he chose the Statesboro Kiwanis Club as a civic organization in which to be involved.
“I was looking for a civic group and, since I’m a hand-on guy, I wanted to be in a hands-on organization,” he said. Having worked with Pittman Park Methodist Church during the fair, he recognized the club as an active group where there would be ample opportunities in which to be in the thick of things.
“I am extremely honored to be a Kiwanian,” he said.
Last year, Poe was not only fair chairman, he took the already challenging role during a year when things were special, the 50th anniversary of the club’s main fundraiser.
The fairgrounds took on a new look last year, with a new music stage, major landscaping around the Aldrich House, new ornamental seating and more, all under Poe’s direction.
Last April, he also brought a new event to the club’s repertoire with the first Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo.
He said he was talking about the fairgrounds and fundraising at a fair chairman’s gathering when someone suggested making use of the fairgrounds at times other than when the fair is held.
Poe and fellow Kiwanian Bill Anderson began researching and eventually decided to host a rodeo. When the committee selected Danny Hedrick and Hedrick Rodeo Company as a partner, the idea came to fruition and Poe is looking forward to the second annual event in April.
Always quick on his feet, Poe took the honor in stride Thursday, but during an interview later, he admitted being surprised.
“Any time you win an award like this and you are not surprised, there is something wrong,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, other Kiwanis members were honored as well. Lovett Bennett Jr. and Barbara Price were honored as George F. Hixson Fellows, an award bestowed n members with exceptional service and character.
“I’m shocked,” Price said. “You know I’m rarely speechless, but I think I am tonight. I’m very proud to be a Kiwanian. Thank you.”
Bennett was not in attendance Thursday.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.