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‘Something that’ll carry on’: Best of Dawson 2021 Awards Gala deemed a success
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On Tuesday, March 23, the Dawson County News hosted the inaugural Best of Dawson Awards Gala at Lilly Creek Farm in Dawson County. Photo by Vicki Alsup Photography.

Lilly Creek Farm in Dawson County was a hive of activity on Tuesday night, as local residents joined the Dawson County News for the inaugural Best of Dawson Awards Gala. 

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Business leaders and community members from all across Dawson County gathered at Lilly Creek Farm on Tuesday, March 23, for the inaugural Best of Dawson Awards Gala hosted by the Dawson County News. Photo by Vicki Alsup Photography.

Throughout December and January, local residents nominated and then voted for their favorites in the community, and after all the votes were tallied, the community was left with the best of the best that Dawson County has to offer. 

But unlike previous years, on Tuesday, March 23, business owners and community members gathered to eat, mingle and walk the red carpet to accept their Best of Dawson 2021 awards amidst applause from fellow winners. 

“I can’t tell you how excited we were to host the Best of Dawson 2021,” DCN Editor Alexander Popp said after the event. “And to see that everyone left happy, full and excited for next year’s event, really means a lot to all of us.” 

Popp said that without the support of readers, who nominated and voted for Best of Dawson 2021; Presenting Sponsor John Megel Chevrolet and all the event’s other sponsors, the night would not have been as successful as it turned out.

This story continues below. 

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Photo by Vicki Alsup Photography.

According to several attendees that came out and enjoyed themselves on Tuesday night, the new DCN banquet is an event that was much needed in the community. 

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Business leaders mingle with beers in hand on the patio of Lilly Creek Farm during the inaugural Best of Dawson Awards Gala, hosted by the Dawson County News on March 23, 2021. Photo courtesy of Altura Social.

Speaking to the DCN before the awards presentation, Dawson County District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said that he was happy to have seen the first official Best of Dawson event go so well.

“It’s awesome,” Gaines said. “And this is the first big event — I know they always did this down in Forsyth but this is a big thing, it’s really cool.” 

Hope Chism, the owner of A Touch of Hope and winner of several 2021 Best of Dawson awards, said that she and her employees were impressed by how the event turned out.


“It’s wonderful, I’m just taking it all in,” Chism said. “I’m very impressed.” 

Steven Leibel, who won Best Personal Injury Attorney said that he thought the bar is now set very high for next year’s Best of Dawson event. 

“Here we are in this beautiful place — what is it gonna look like next year,” Leibel said. “It’s wonderful; they’ve really done a beautiful job with this.” 

To add to an already special event, local legend and Dawsonville native Gordon Pirkle was presented with a brand new honor, called the Heart of Dawson Leadership Award. 

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Dawson County legend Gordon Pirkle speaks to a crowd at the inaugural Best of Dawson Awards Gala hosted by the Dawson County News. Pirkle was honored with a special new award at the gala, the Heart of Dawson Leadership Award, which will be given out yearly. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

Popp presented the award to Pirkle during an intermission halfway through the night, announcing that the award will henceforth be called the Gordon Pirkle Heart of Dawson Award and will be given yearly to a community member who embodies the same giving spirit and love for Dawson County that Pirkle has. 

“From his work at the Racing Hall of Fame to his volunteer work in numerous community causes, his unbridled passion for the community,  [Pirkle] is a shining example of what it means to be a citizen and a community leader,” Popp said. “For that, we want to recognize him tonight.”

Pirkle accepted the award as everyone in attendance stood and cheered. 

According to Pirkle’s daughter, Hayley Garrett, who made every effort to keep the award a secret from Pirkle until the banquet, her father was totally surprised by the honor. 

“We hid all the books when we walked in — he kept saying ‘I wanna look at one of those books’ and I just said, ‘what books?’” Hayley said. “But we’re so happy and thankful. This is something that’ll carry on. This event will be good from now on and it’s so great the award can start at the same time.” 

After receiving the Heart of Dawson Leadership Award Pirkle told the crowd that he was honored and that there is no place that he’d rather be than his home-town. 

“I’m so glad to be from Dawson County,” Pirkle said. “I’m so glad to be here.”

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