Barrett Havran Memorial Big Taste of Fort Worth: A legacy honored, a worthy cause served

Scott Murray emcees the Barrett Havran Memorial Big Taste of Fort Worth. (Photo by Amber Shumake)

Barrett Havran would be proud.

Once again Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Tarrant County honored his memory with the Barrett Havran Memorial Big Taste of Fort Worth. The ballroom at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel in downtown Fort Worth was packed Sunday with folks enjoying delicious fare from some of North Texas’ finest chefs and restaurants.

And while there were plenty of generous portions eaten by the approximately 415 in attendance, there were also plenty of generous donations made. Rachel Pillar, Vice President of Advancement and Community Engagement for BBBS, reported the event raised over $250,000 to benefit BBBS.

“We are so humbled and honored to see how the community came out in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Barrett Havran Memorial Big Taste,” Pillar said. “It speaks to the importance of our mission, how it resonates with people in all walks of life, and it speaks volumes to the legacy of Barrett, to his family’s commitment to serving the Fort Worth community, and to our mentors. This year was a huge success and we are already excitedly planning for next year’s event!”

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Joy Ann Havran, Barrett’s mother, proudly announced to the crowd when that will be.

“Everyone mark April 14, 2024, on your calendars,” she said enthusiastically. “Plan to join us for the next Barrett Havran Big Taste of Fort Worth.”

This was the 42nd Big Taste benefit, an event that has honored Barrett Havran since 2011. Havran died in 2011 at age 31 and is remembered as a friend to all who knew him. A gifted scholar/athlete and community servant with a strong legal mind, Havran was greatly respected and has been described as a true renaissance man who was humble and kind with exceptional character.

Havran graduated in 1998 from Fort Worth Country Day School, where he was a track star and now has a stadium named after him. He earned degrees from The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin after receiving a track scholarship to UT, and Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas.

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Havran was active on the Tarrant board of Big Brothers Big Sisters and was a devoted Big Brother. Among his many honors was being posthumously selected to the Fort Worth Business Press 40 Under 40 Class of 2011.

“Barrett left a huge legacy of service, and we at BBBS were fortunate enough to be one of the beneficiaries of his commitment to his community,” Pillar said. “We are so grateful that his family has chosen to continue honoring his generous spirit.”

The mission of BBBS is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. They do this by partnering youths, known as littles, with adults, called bigs for regular activities and get-togethers. The idea is bring out the potential in youngsters as they grow.

Pierce Bush, CEO of BBBS Lone Star, the nation’s largest BBBS affiliate, said the success of the Big Taste event is “a reflection of the incredible support we receive in Fort Worth. I think the most amazing thing is it enables us to impact more kids in Tarrant County. Of our kids, 97.5 percent are enrolled in college, employed or enlisted in the military.”

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Former NBC 5 Sports Anchor Scott Murray was the evening’s master of ceremonies. A highlight of the evening was when someone offered to donate $10,000 if the rest in attendance could match it, at which point Murray went to work getting the audience to donate here and there until the amount was more than matched.

“Live your life as a go-getter. Share your life as a go-giver,” Murray told the crowd.

As always, this year’s event featured a plethora of food samplings. The program also featured more distilleries and spirit tasting than years past, and even offered hot tea samples for the first time, from an up and coming company called Nothing But a Tea Thang, owned and operated by a Big Brother.

In fact, among the major prizes auctioned off was Whiskey Your Way. The prize from Blackland Distillery features the once-in-a-lifetime experience of designing your own signature whiskey flavors, complete with aging to perfection, bottling with your own signature, custom naming and labeling with each barrel producing roughly 25 personalized bottles. Another popular prize was a Big Backyard Bash, which includes a barbecue event – including beer from Wild Acre – for up to 20 people, along with a private concert by Sonny and Jolie Holliday Burgess. The duo gave the crowd a sampling of their music during the evening as well.

The prizes for the evening, as selected by celebrity judges – except for the People’s Choice Award – included:

Best Distillery – SuTi Craft.

Best Winery – Duckhorn.

Best Dessert – Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Best of Big Taste – Stone House.

People’s Choice – Toro Toro.

“I’m Fort Worth by marriage, and this is my first time here, and I think it’s delightful,” Adam Ackermann said. “You get to sample great food, enjoy delicious wine. What’s not to enjoy? And it’s for a fantastic cause.”

That attitude permeated throughout the evening. From those attending to those working, smiles were abundant.

“It’s super fun, a great way to bring some people together for sharing,” said Abigail Peele, a wine pourer for Tooth & Nail.

Chloe Hoffman of Curves & Edges was working her first Big Taste and said, “I love it! Lots of people I know from work have come by.”

Shannon Norris said that along with tasty samplings to eat and drink, he was pleased with the items to bid on in the live and silent auctions: “They have a good selection of things to bid on, and it’s for a great cause. I’ve had friends who participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

Brad Bloxom was excited that, “They had to add more chairs this year. That’s huge!”

The theme of the evening was cowboy chic. Men and ladies wore boots, along with donning attire ranging from cowboy hats to bolo ties.

Bailey Gloeckler opted for a red ruffled dress highlighted by a white cowboy hat. While she looked like she spent many hours searching for the perfect costume, she laughed and said, “To be honest, I bought it two hours ago, but I love it.”

Of the event itself she said,  “It’s beautiful, and so wonderful to see so many people coming together for charity. I’m ready to try some wine.”

Pillar summed up the evening: “This event highlights the best of the best across Fort Worth and greater Tarrant County, from boutique startup shops to legendary restaurants and everything in between. Nothing brings people together like great food, a great time, and a great cause.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters is truly grateful for the years of support that Joy Ann and Bob Havran have shown for this event. It would not be possible without their tireless efforts.”