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OPINION | Carin Schoppmeyer: Festivities celebrate inauguration of Sarah Huckabee Sanders

New Generation theme links events by Carin Schoppmeyer | January 15, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, with husband Ryan and children Huck (from left), George and Scarlett welcomes guests to the Taste of Arkansas Inaugural Ball on Jan. 10 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders became Arkansas' 47th governor last week with a slate of celebratory and ceremonial events in Little Rock to mark the occasion. All events reflected the inaugural theme: "A New Generation."

"The passing of the torch is always a historic occasion. But it's not a torch to burn something down, but instead to light a path for a New Generation of service and leadership," the governor stated in her inaugural address.

"So today, let us begin a new chapter in the story of Arkansas -- to be written by a New Generation of proud Arkansas sons and daughters who are stepping forward to lead.

"A New Generation born in the waning decades of the last century, shaped by economic booms and stock market busts, forged by the triumph of the Cold War and the tragedy of 9/11. A generation brimming with passion and new ideas to solve age-old problems. A generation moored to our deepest values and oldest traditions, yet unafraid to challenge the present order and find a better way forward."

The governor-elect played host to some 240 family, friends and VIPs on Jan. 9, the eve of the inauguration, at the Old Statehouse Museum for the intimate Candlelight Dinner event ahead of Tuesday's events.

Other inaugural happenings included Freedom Fest on Jan. 7, followed by Bourbon & Cigars with the first gentleman that evening; and a children's carnival hosted by Scarlett, Huck and George Sanders on Sunday at the Little Rock Zoo.

Inauguration activities Tuesday began with a prayer and worship service at Fellowship Bible Church, followed by Sanders taking the oath of office and inaugural address on the steps of the state Capitol.

The black-tie "Taste of Arkansas" Inaugural Ball capped the festivities that evening at the Statehouse Convention Center with some 2,600 guests.

The ball began with a welcome from the Jacqueline and Michael Retzer, inaugural committee co-chairmen, and an invocation from the Rev. Iverson Jackson, senior pastor of Zoe Bible Church in Little Rock.

The menu for the evening included a salad of cucumber ribbon, fresh mozzarella, heirloom cherry tomato, balsamic gel, mulberry gel, Arkansas apple crisp, and tomato dust, garnished with apple blossom, Arkansas' state flower; duck gumbo; aged choice beef tenderloin, parsnips, roasted trumpet mushrooms and broccoli; followed by dessert -- "Sarah's Signature Bourbon Pecan Pie."

Rounding out the evening celebration highlighting Arkansas' people, music, food and culture was a live performance by country music star and Arkansas native Justin Moore. Musical entertainment for all inaugural events was a showcase of Arkansas musicians that included Joe Nichols, Collin Raye, Zach Williams, Capitol Offense featuring former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Drumline, Philander Smith College Choir, Ouachita Baptist University Singers, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and the 106th Army National Guard Concert & Jazz Bands.

Serving with the Retzers on the inaugural committee were Cathy Lanier and Megan Turner as inaugural coordinators. Other inaugural committee members included Mandy Asberry, Allie Barker, Sarah Bone, Kristen Boozman, Ashley Caldwell, Rebecca Dawon Jones, Stacy DeJarnette, Katy Faulk, Sarah Finley, Mary Ashleigh Harper, Jana Hiland, Marie Holder, Kirstin Johnson, Leigh Keener, Pasha Moore, Susan Peacock, Shawna Powell, Jordan Rhodes, Johnna Rogers and Janis Terry.

For more event photos -- nwadg.com/photos/society.

Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected]

  photo  Arkansas Secretary of the Department of Transformation and Shared Services Joseph Wood and wife June enjoy the Governor's Inaugural Ball on Jan. 10 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
  photo  Secretary of the Department of Transformation and Shared Services Joseph Wood and wife June enjoy the Governor's Inaugural Ball on Jan. 10 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
  photo  Terry and Walter Harris (from left) and Alice Walton visit at the Governor's Inaugural Ball on Jan. 10 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
  photo  Clay and Misty Newcomb (from left) and JonMark and Abigail Harris visit at the Governor's Inaugural Ball on Jan. 10 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
  photo  Laurice Hachem-Roberts and Keith Roberts and Mechelle Meredith-Ehardt and Robert Ehardt enjoy the Governor's Inaugural Ball on Jan. 10 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
  photo  Mark and Dawn Conine (from left), Aaron and Rep. Rebecca Burkes, Seth and Tanya Mims, Chris and Kelly Ann Donelson and Sen. Jim Petty and wife Janet attend the Governor's Inaugural Ball on Jan. 10 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
  photo  Randy and Valorie Lawson (front, from left), Scarlett Basore; Neff Basore (back, left) and Caitlyn Mason attend the VIP Candlelight Dinner at the Old Statehouse Museum in Little Rock. The dinner on Jan. 9 was hosted by the governor-elect for family, friends, and VIPs ahead of the following day's festivities. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
  photo  Randy and Valorie Lawson (front, from left), Scarlett Besore; Neff Basore (back, left) and Caitlyn Mason attend the VIP Candlelight Dinner at the Old Statehouse Museum in Little Rock. The dinner on Jan. 9 was hosted by the governor-elect for family, friends, and VIPs ahead of the following day's festivities. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
  photo  Former Rep. Prissy Hickerson and husband Randy (from left), Margaret Ransom and Bill Poynter and Cindy and Randy Coffman enjoy the Governor's Inaugural Ball. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
  photo  Jeff and Margaret Jones (from left) and Tina Smith attend the Jan. 9 Candlelight Dinner hosted by the governor-elect for family, friends, and VIPs ahead of the following day's festivities. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
 
 
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