Preparations underway for 26th annual Tyler Cattle Barons' Gala -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Preparations underway for 26th annual Tyler Cattle Barons' Gala

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It's taken months of planning and a week of on-site preparations, but organizers are putting the finishing touches on one of East Texas' largest annual fundraisers.

It's Tyler's 26th annual Cattle Barons' Gala, and it's taking place this Saturday night at the Rio Neches Ranch in New Harmony.

The theme of this year's gala is "Rigs to Riches," a chance to celebrate our East Texas roots, as well as the 100th anniversary of the American Cancer Society.

Cities all over Texas hold Cattle Barons' fundraisers each year to raise money for their local American Cancer Society branches -- they raise money for research and to help families out with some of the extra costs that come with cancer treatment.

"Not only are we raising awareness about the fight of cancer, but we're raising the most money for East Texas for cancer. Not only for research, but for all the free services and patient services that are offered here in our East Texas office, and we're here to raise money to help people," said Amy Barber, a co-chairman of the 2013 Tyler Cattle Barons' Gala.

This is the third time Harry Leatherwood has opened up his ranch for the Tyler Cattle Barons' Gala.

"I think it's a good cause. I like the community effort to raise money for this cause," said Leatherwood. "And of course, there's not many big places left anymore they can actually do this, so we're trying to do our part."

Over the last 25 years, the Tyler Cattle Barons' Gala has raised nearly $10 million for the American Cancer Society.

"It doesn't matter if it's $400,000 or $1 million. It doesn't matter," Barber said. "American Cancer Society needs every amount of money they can get to beat this cause."

The Cattle Barons' committee and more than 50 volunteers have been working hard for a week now, setting up chandeliers and decorating for an expected 1,800 guests.

Ranch foreman Mike Schovanec has been helping set up the Cattle Barons' Gala for 18 years now, and he says there's a reason he gives up two weeks each year.

"Because of the cause. I can't tell you ... Because of cancer. You know, one out of two people get touched by it, and I've been touched by it and everybody out here's been touched by it, and I'm sure I'll be touched by it more. And it's one thing I can do to volunteer my time, and you know, to give back," said Schovanec.

The weekend kicks off Friday night with the Little Wrangler's party, a private celebration for local children who are bravely fighting cancer.

The gala starts Saturday night at 7 p.m. and you can still get tickets until Saturday at 2 p.m. in Tyler at the American Cancer Society office or at Fenton Motors.

You can also purchase tickets, as well as learn more about the gala, online.

Tickets cost $175 per person for general admission and $300 for special Baron's Reception admission, which includes a private party in the ranch's vineyard.

You can also purchase tickets at the gate.

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