By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
After two decades of cook-outs and games, Cannon Appreciation Day is still going strong.
The 20th annual event, which provided Cannon Air Force Base personnel and their families with free food, games and time to relax, happened Friday at the base’s Unity Park.
The Committee of Fifty, Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce and Clovis Industrial Development Corporation sponsored the hamburgers and hot dogs, volleyball, horseshoes, pie-eating contest and door-prize giveaway.
“I think that everyone really appreciates that the community is doing this for the base personnel and their families, and I think it makes the relationship stronger between the two,” said Bethany Ash, whose husband is in the U.S. Air Force.
Ash said the food was great and her 3-year-old daughter, Evelyn, was enjoying herself.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos said the event has endured 20 years because there’s never a shortage of enthusiasm among the volunteers who make it happen.
Kos said based on the amount of food served, about 3,000 people attended. About 100 volunteers ran the show.
“It was a great day, great crowd,” Kos said. “And I think it was a great opportunity to meet all the new people moving here and develop relationships with them.”
Staff Sgt. Rex Walton of the Civil Engineering Squadron said he thought Cannon Appreciation Day was a good idea.
“It gets everyone out and together, mingling,” he said.
During the event, Kos said, $4,000 worth of door prizes such as grills, electronics and patio furniture purchased by the Committee of 50 were given away. And, organizers had about $10,000 of food on hand.
“In our mind, it’s just a small way of letting the folks at Cannon know how much we appreciate them,” she said.
During a brief speech, base commander Col. Stephen A. Clark said Cannon Appreciation Day is special, noting the community holds several events for the base every year. He said the community has a close relationship with the base to thank the Airmen for getting their mission done and protecting their countrymen.
Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said the community was happy to provide the picnic.
“We appreciate your service to our country; we appreciate the service to our community,” she said.