Tomball's own Mike Baxter was honored as one of the state's top professionals last week, when he was awarded the Texas Festivals and Events Association's Professional of the Year award.
Baxter, the city's marketing director, has spent more than two years building special events from the ground up and now has the recognition from his peers to show for it.
"It's always a surprise to win in anything and this organization is full of great people that have been doing this kind of work for a long time," he said. "These are people I have looked up to for years and I never really thought of myself as in their league. They came up to me and said welcome to the group."
City Manager George Shackelford and Tomball Mayor Gretchen Fagan knew beforehand that Baxter would be receiving the honor, which they nominated him for, so they surprised Baxter by making an appearance at the awards banquet.
"It was a shock," Baxter said of seeing his city counterparts. "It was so neat that they were there and I'm really happy that my wife was as well."
"He is so deserving," Fagan said. "The great work he has done in Tomball is amazing and he works extremely hard. He has earned this."
Baxter is quick to say that the award isn't just about him, but the entire city staff, area businesses owners, volunteers and his partner in the marketing department – Rosalie Dillon.
"It's a true team effort on all of this," he said. "Things like this definitely would not have happened without Rosalie."
Baxter also said the award just proves how much the community cares.
"It reemphasizes the fact that Tomball has a professional event program that is on level with others around the state, but we wouldn't be successful without the business owners and the people of this community," he said.
Baxter's award wasn't the only one the city took home from the banquet. Tomball grabbed first place plaques in five different categories, including Best Radio Promotion for the Friday Night Creature Features, Best Promotional Poster for the Bunny Run, Best new event for the Oil Town USA Jamboree, Best Hat for the Oil Town USA Jamboree and, for the second straight year, Rusty Rails took home the Best Mascot award.
The city also received six second place awards and two third place awards in various categories.
Baxter said all the honors he has received over the years would not have been possible without the support of his family.
"For so many years I have missed weekend events with the family because of what I do as a career," he said. "I have a job that I love – the most fun job in the city – and I wouldn't be able to do it without the support of my wife. I just thank God that he gave me the talent to be able to do something I love and do it well."