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Best of Fort Bend 2017


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2016 Best of Fort Bend

Annual recognition of Fort Bend County’s champions of
community, shopping, dining and more!

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Best Way to Learn Italian

Umbria: Italian Film Fest

In late September, a five-day Italian Film Festival highlighting the many cultural offerings of the Umbrian region of Italy was hosted by the City of Sugar Land and the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Festival del Cinema Citta di Spello ed i Borghi Umbri, the region of Umbria and the city of Spello. The event featured Umbria’s food, wine and art, including an exhibit showcasing sculpture, photography, crafted jewelry and an educational seminar titled “Framing Italian Cinema.”

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Best New Gala

Putting on the Glitz

Abigail’s Place held its first annual gala in March at the Moore Mansion. “Puttin’ on the Glitz” was an elegant Roaring Twenties-themed party, with all proceeds to benefit Abigail’s Place, which is a nonprofit relief organization committed to supporting single mothers in Fort Bend County by providing safe, transitional housing while promoting self-sufficiency and neighborhood revitalization.

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Best LCISD “Mathlete”

Arshaan Ali

Arshaan Ali, a junior at George Ranch High School last spring, earned a Gold medal with the second highest score among all of the juniors attending the nation’s most prestigious math competition, MathCON, held in Chicago. The top 1 percent (576 students) of original competitors were invited to the MathCON finals on April 22. Eight Lamar CISD students were in the top 1 percent and seven made the trip to take the final written exam.

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FBISD’s Teacher Awards

Stephanie Clayton and Jessika Hearn

At its April Teacher of the Year Awards dinner, Fort Bend ISD announced its 2017 District Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year. Stephanie Clayton of Sugar Mill Elementary is the 2017 District Elementary

Teacher of the Year; and Jessika Hearne of McAuliffe Middle School is the 2017 District Secondary Teacher of the Year.

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Best New Literary Event

Fort Bend County Book Festival

Fort Bend County Libraries held its first Book Festival in November at the George Memorial Library. The event celebrated the importance of literature to the imaginations of children and adults alike. It featured authors, storytellers, performances and workshops, along with food trucks onsite. Highlights included a children’s theater performance, master puppeteer Jean Kuecher and local authors Pat Miller and Judithe Little from Houston.

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Best Place to Go Nuts

Pecan Harvest Festival

The 2017 Pecan Harvest Festival was held in Historic Downtown Richmond on Nov. 19. The rich history of pecans in Fort Bend County and Historic Downtown Richmond were highlighted, along with the Kidz Zone, live music, and hayride transport to artisans, farmers market, beer garden and a Classic Car Show.

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1st-place winner: “Serene” by Oliver Wang.

1st-place winner: “Serene” by Oliver Wang.

Best Image of Fort Bend County

“Serene” by Oliver Wang

First place in the Fort Bend County Libraries’ amateur photo contest, “Capture Fort Bend County,” went to Oliver Wang for his photograph, “Serene,” taken at Cinco Ranch-Rosewood. For the contest, amateur photographers were invited to enter original photographs depicting the culture, nature, people, and places of Fort Bend County.

Olivia Greenwood won second place for her photograph, “My Master is Coming Home.” Third place went to Lana Henderson for her photograph, “Backyard Hawk.”

Thirty-eight photographs were entered into the competition. The entries were judged by five professional photographers. “We obviously have some talented amateur photographers in Fort Bend,” said one of the judges.

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Best Two-Hour Tree Planting Event

Regional Tree Planting Competition

Close to 300 volunteers gathered at Missouri City’s Buffalo Run Park on Feb. 11 for the Houston Area Urban Forestry Council’s 2017 Regional Tree Planting Competition. Teams planted 100 trees per team in friendly competition with one another. A total of 2,000 trees were planted in just over two hours, transforming a newly created retention basin area. A variety of tree species were planted including sycamore, American and cedar elm, several oaks, bald cypress, sweetgum, mulberry and green ash.

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One of the Best Cities for Tourism

Sugar Land 

In April, the Texas Travel Counselors awarded Sugar Land with the “Best City” award, tying with Galveston in a vote of top cities along the upper coastal region of Texas. The group made its choice after visits to several Sugar Land locations – the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land, the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center, Constellation Field and Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land. The attendees also enjoyed local eateries.

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Best Rising Star

Jasmine Rogers

Austin High School grad Jasmine Rogers is a veteran of the school’s theatre department and Sugar Land’s community theatre, Inspiration Stage. In April,  Jasmine was awarded the Tommy Tune Award for Best Actress in the greater Houston area for her portrayal of The Witch in Austin High School’s production of Into the Woods.

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Most Fashionable Outreach to Benefit Children

Hats, Gloves and Boutonnières 

This 14th annual event raised

nearly $51,000 (more than double its goal) on May 8 at the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center. More than 200 guests attended the event  chaired by  Susie Goff and Susan Novasad. Proceeds benefit the Dis­covery Center and outreach efforts for children in Fort Bend County.

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Fort Bend ISD’s Best Teacher’s Aid

25 Years of FBEF

The Sugar Land Skeeters and Constellation Field hosted a spectacular event to celebrate the Fort Bend Education Foundation’s (FBEF) 25 years of supporting Fort Bend ISD teachers and schools with $32 million in grants provided over that time. This has enabled the Foundation to provide support to the 75 campuses that house the more than 74,500 students and approximately 5,000 teachers in Fort Bend ISD.

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Best Neighbors Anywhere

Hurricane Harvey Relief and Clean Up

Friends, neighbors, strangers and community members all came together as one collective family after Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc.  This is a small example of the massive effort throughout Fort Bend County that so many were involved with in order to feed, clothe, and otherwise assist those who were affected by this terrible storm. Thank you to all who helped!

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Best Partnership with Youth

Cowboy Up for Parks Youth Ranch

Cowboy Up 2017, presented by Fred and Mabel Parks Foundation and benefiting Parks Youth Ranch, was held on Saturday, Oct. 6 at the George Ranch Historical Park Arena in Richmond. This charity event benefits Parks Youth Ranch, which provides emergency shelter, counseling, and life-changing services to abused and neglected youth ages 7-17. Along with Honorary Chairs Pat and Richard “Dick” Hogan, approximately 500 local leaders, business owners and community supporters attended the shindig.

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Best Blooming Event

Annual Hibiscus Society Show and Sale

This two-part show and sale in April and May dazzled attendees and participants with its array of hibiscus blooms. Judging took place in the mornings, and the show and sale was open to the public in the afternoon. The sale offered eye-catching hibiscus in a wide variety of colors and color combinations. New varieties of hibiscus and special plant selections were also available for purchase, including those not available at the local nursery.

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The Fort Bend BoysTour Choir sings The Twelve Pains of Christmas at the 2016 Christmas Musicale.

Best Sounds Around

Fort Bend Boys Choir 

The Fort Bend Boys Choir closed out the 2017 season with its Christmas Musicale Concert at First United Methodist Church-Missouri City. The choir of boys age 8 and older with unchanged voices not only dazzles audiences with its beautiful sounds, but it also gives the boys life lessons such as leadership, making friends, and building self-esteem and confidence.

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Most Famous Ballet Production

Swan Lake 

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake combines pure romanticism and tragedy in a magical tale of love and deception. It features Odette, a beautiful princess, who falls under the spell of an evil sorcerer. Only Prince Siegfried’s devotion can save her. This performance included the rarely seen Waltz of the Black Swans. The score and choreography have enchanted audiences for over a century. On Oct. 17 at the Stafford Centre, Russian Grand Ballet’s production featured Russia’s brightest ballet stars. Under the leadership of Constantine Pinchuk and ballet master Andrey Litvinov, the company has expanded to include a corps de ballet of over 50 dancers, joined each year by renowned guest artists dancing principal roles.

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Doggone Best Fundraiser

Doggone Fun Run

More than 200 runners and 100 canine friends took part in Fort Bend Cares’ fourth annual Doggone Fun Run in April in the Village of Sawmill Lake in Sienna Plantation. This fun family event included a 5K run (with and without dogs) and a 1-mile walk, plus a costume contest, vendor fair, food trucks, face painting and more. The run raises funds to support nonprofit organizations that serve to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in Fort Bend County.

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Best Gourmet Event

Sugar Land Wine and Food Affair

This delicious event celebrated our ethnically diverse food and drink culture, with a focus on the region’s melting pot of African, Asian, Latino, European and Southwestern flavors that draws attention from food and drink lovers from around the country. The four-day festival in April had its biggest year to date with award-winning chefs, sommeliers and mixologists via its series of dinners, events, learning experiences, the Grand Tasting and a two-day Sip & Stroll.

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Best Benefit for Fort Bend Charities, Inc.

Fort Bend Ranchers’ Ball

The “cowboy chic” style Fort Bend Ranchers’ Ball held Oct. 21 benefits Fort Bend Charities, Inc., which provides financial support to various charities working to serve Fort Bend County including the Lone Star Veterans Association, Katy Christian Ministries, Simonton Christian Academy, the Fort Bend County Fair, Katy Future Farmers of America and other agencies that serve the county’s residents. Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers hosted the third annual event.

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Brookwood Dream Team (l-r): Citizens Stuart, Richard, Jason and Mark.

Brookwood Dream Team (l-r): Citizens Stuart, Richard, Jason and Mark.

Most Fun Brookwood Fundraiser

Brookwood Community Golf Benefit

The Brookwood Community held its 32nd annual Golf Benefit on Nov. 6, at Weston Lakes Country Club. The public responded, helping Brook­wood raise significant funds for the Citizens who live and work at the Brookwood Com­munity, which provides an educational environment that creates jobs, builds a sense of belonging and demands respect for adults with disabilities.

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Best Place to Get Juiced

Texas Fresh Juice

Customers say “The best place around to get delicious, cold-pressed, ORGANIC juices for myself and my whole family. We love the large variety of juices they offer as well as the convenience of having their store right in the neighborhood. They don’t use any additives or preservatives which is so important for my family’s health. Love this shop!”

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(L-R): Rob Bamford, Todd and Cherish Hamilton, Tori and Omar Arreola, Heather and Trey Reichert and Allison Bond at the Men Who Cook benefit.

(L-R): Rob Bamford, Todd and Cherish Hamilton, Tori and Omar Arreola, Heather and Trey Reichert and Allison Bond at the Men Who Cook benefit.

Best Tasting Way to Support the Classroom

Men Who Cook 

In February, Men Who Cook raised more than $182,000 to support innovative ideas and classroom projects proposed by Lamar CISD teachers that would otherwise go unfunded. Lamar Educational Awards Foundation (L.E.A.F.) also offers scholarships to graduating Lamar CISD students and to the District’s paraprofessionals working on their teaching certificates. In its 17 years, L.E.A.F. has invested almost $3 million into Lamar CISD schools.

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Best Revamped Golf Course

Sugar Creek Country Club

The SCCC’s golf course, which was originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, showed off its renovation in 2017. Now the golf course, pool complex and clubhouse are designed for traditional golfers and new members alike, with many features available to introduce families and young golfers to golf. This emphasis on younger professionals and families has paid off in increased membership.

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Dr. Jacqueline Horton Cobbin, author of According to HIS Purpose, at her table at the event.

Dr. Jacqueline Horton Cobbin, author of According to HIS Purpose, at her table at the event.

Best Place to be Inspired by Literature

A Literary Café

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. presented its annual free event, “A Literary Café” on Feb. 25. More than 100 guests enjoyed presentations from 15 authors, including national best-selling authors who read excerpts and discussed the inspiration behind writing their books. The Literary Café also featured special performances of music and dancing.

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Best Reason to Wear Cowboy Chic

Fort Bend County Ranchers’ Ball

More 500 guests dressed in their best “Cowboy Chic” attire attended the 2017 Fort Bend Ranchers’ Ball on Oct. 21 at Safari Texas and enjoyed dinner and dancing to the music of Texas Swing Unlimited. The event raised more than $320,000 making it the most successful Ranchers’ Ball to date. The Ball is an annual fundraiser benefitting Fort Bend Charities, Inc., which provides financial support to various charities serving Fort Bend County.

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Wesley Nilsen in his winning Superstar performance. (Photo – Terry Turner Photography)

Wesley Nilsen in his winning Superstar performance. (Photo – Terry Turner Photography)

Best New Superstar

Wesley Nilsen

Musician Wesley Nilsen of Rosen­berg has set the stage for further success after winning the 2017 Sugar Land Superstar Contest. In the final round on Aug. 19, he wowed the judges and audience by singing Make it Rain, backed up by a musical track that he recorded and arranged. “He  brought energy, depth, lyrical connection and strong vocals to the song. He owned the stage,” said one of the judges.

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Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital cancer survivors.

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital cancer survivors.

Best Creative Outlet at Houston Methodist Sugar Land 

Thriving Through Creative Arts

Fort Bend-area cancer survivors have a new artistic outlet to help with emotions surrounding their life-changing experience. The complimentary expressive art program at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital gives local survivors the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings about being diagnosed, treated and surviving cancer.

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The Best Gala for Business Leaders

Chairman’s Gala – Let’s Get Crazy

The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce’s holds its gala at Safari Texas Ranch each year to honor the leaders and volunteers of the Chamber. Commissioner James Patterson of Fort Bend County Precinct 4 was awarded the Community Spirit Award, and Nancy Colmenares of Allegiance Bank was selected as a recipient of the Lifetime Members Award.

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Best Way to See Relevance of STEM 

JASON Argonaut Program

For the 2017 JASON Argonaut program, Fort Bend ISD chose Noor Mohamed-Salinas, who was an eighth-grader at Bowie Middle School at the time, as its student representative, along with a science teacher at First Colony Middle School, Michael Harvey. During the eight days they spent in July at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas, they worked on  tagging and studying sea turtles. The experience opened Noor’s mind to how STEM is applied in ecological and environmental ways that benefit people and the planet. Now she hopes to study some kind of engineering that will benefit our oceans and the animals in them.

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"Silverado is a wonderful place. I love talking to the residents. Working here has allowed me to show God through kindness and patience.” - Jessica Taylor, 10th grade

Best Week to Help Others

Eagle Week at FBCA

Every spring, Fort Bend Christian Academy high school students participate in a week-long service opportunity called Eagle Week. The purpose of Eagle Week is to inspire students to be service-minded year round. Students work with international groups and local organizations in a direct expression of the school’s Christian mission and identity.

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Best Celebration of Our Rural Heritage

Fort Bend County Fair

From Sept. 29 to Oct. 8, the Fort Bend County Fair offered rodeo action, family fun, food galore and 14 musical acts including Texas Music, Traditional Country and Tejano. Fair Queen Marissa Salazar oversaw the events, including selection of the Grand and Reserve Champions. Scholarships that are a result of money raised by the Fort Bend County Fair Association and its various committees will be given to students representing schools and districts throughout Fort Bend County. Additionally, the Go Tejano Committee, Life Member Silent Auction, Art Auction Committee, Grapes on the Brazos Committee and sponsors all do their part to give back to local youth.

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Best Whirlwind Holiday Shopping and Ballet

Sugar Plum Market and The Nutcracker Ballet

The 17th Annual Sugar Plum Market took place at the Stafford Centre in early November and BalletForte’s annual Nutcracker Ballet in Decem­ber – an outstanding local production at an affordable price. Many organizations have benefited from Market proceeds through the years. The 2016 Sugar Plum Market raised a record-breaking $310,000 which benefited more than 22 charitable organizations in Fort Bend County.

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Best Reason to Study Spelling

Literacy Council’s Annual Grown-Up Spelling Bee

Teams of three adults competed for bragging rights as the Best Grown-Up Spellers in the county in this eighth annual November event that is also a fundraiser. Since 1987, over 3,000 Literacy Council volunteers have donated nearly 550,000 hours of their personal time to tutor more than 25,000 adult learners.

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Best New Cultural Event

MCTX Fest

In April, Missouri City held its first annual MCTX FEST – a new Parks & Recreation initiative that featured a day full of live music, art, and food for residents and visitors. This free celebration allowed guests to try food from local restaurants such as Brandani’s and Soto’s Kitchen, stroll through an art market that showcased creations of local artisans, and hear live music by festival headliner Blue Water Highway and other musicians.

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It’s a “Hard Knock Life” for Annie’s orphans, as they rebel against Miss Hannigan.

It’s a “Hard Knock Life” for Annie’s orphans, as they rebel against Miss Hannigan.

Best Hard Knock Life

Inspiration Stage

In November, Annie JR rocked Inspiration Stage at the historic Sugar Land Auditorium. Talented youth from the area brought the story of the plucky and positive orphan to life as she foils Miss Hannigan’s plans and finds a home and family with Oliver Warbucks, Grace Farrell and the lovable mutt named Sandy.


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