Lou Watkins has baked either a chocolate creme pie with almonds or coconut pie to be auctioned off at every Boots and Bandanas dinner and dessert auction for the past four years.

This year, the fifth for the fundraiser, will be no different, except she has enlisted her friend, Ann Dugger, to make the homemade crust. These sugar-free pies have become one of the most popular dessert items auctioned off at this event.

Watkins’s husband, Wes, was diagnosed with diabetes in February 1991, and it dramatically changed the way in which the couple ate.

“There has been a huge increase in information and education about diabetes and the impact it has on a person’s lifestyle since the early 1990s. Splenda has also been a huge help in preparation of food for diabetics,” she said.

The Watkinses became involved with the Boots and Bandanas event because of their friend Suzanne Carpenter, a planning committee member this year. They were already loyal supporters of all three agencies this event’s proceeds will benefit: Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency, Stillwater Mission of Hope and Stillwater Community Health Center.

The event was a way they felt they could contribute something that could also raise awareness about diabetes and the importance of Splenda and sugar-free eating, however, they said. Stillwater Community Health Center holds monthly diabetic clinics for the patients it serves, they said, so it seemed a natural way for them to be a part of this special event.

The Boots and Bandanas fundraiser features an auction of homemade confections and other specialties prepared by local celebrity chefs. The items can be previewed before and during the barbecue dinner. Following dinner, the desserts and specialty packages are auctioned off.

“Many of Stillwater’s best-known chefs are kind enough to create one or more of their heavenly desserts every year for this auction,” Carpenter said.

Other chefs contributing this year are Bart Clark, Mary Emde, Deborah Green, Kristen Gundy, Sandy McNickle, Julie Lauvetz, Elizabeth Cyr, Martha McMillian and Marge McMillian.

“We can’t thank everyone enough for bringing these fabulous desserts to the auction,” Carpenter said. “There will be specialty packages that will also be available and fun to bid on.

Packages include an authentic Italian pizza party for eight donated by Beth and Jason Caniglia and Alane and Gary Zannotti and a progressive dinner for 10 at the homes of Jon and Nancy Patton, Charles and Carol Headrick and Dick and Carol Ann Powell.

The Boots and Bandanas event has raised thousands of dollars for COCAA programs over the years, yet the need for additional funds continues. The goal set for this year is $20,000.

Tickets are $60 ($45 of each ticket is tax deductible), and tables for eight are available for $450. Business sponsorships are also available for $500.

Reservations are due by Aug. 13 and are available by calling the COCAA office at 664-4453.

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