— The Middleburg Business and Professional Association’s annual awards ceremony returned this year as an opportunity to highlight the special people in the Middleburg community whose efforts help to make the town such a special place to live and work. After a COVID-related hiatus last year, feelings of camaraderie and joy were in abundant supply at Emmanuel Episcopal Church‘s Parish House as community members gathered for the final Biz Buzz of 2021 to celebrate their achievements.

With laughter and tears, the gathering exemplified the best of Middleburg: the community spirit that ties the town together. “Since we are a small community, we help, support and look out for each other,” said MBPA President Punkin Lee. “We’re an inventive group that can pivot on a dime and give nine-and-a-half cents change. We’re all in it for the long haul, respecting COVID and how it has affected all of us, but never giving up or giving in.”

One highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Town Figure Award to Mark Metzger, owner of Highcliffe Clothiers. Metzger, who opened his shop in Middleburg in 2007, has served on the board of the Custom Tailors & Designers Association since 1991, including two terms as president, and is a world champion carp fisherman, but is best known around town for his service to the community, from cooking up familiar favorites at community events to spearheading the decoration of the town’s Christmas tree, which this year included more than 5,000 lights. This year, Mark added a Hanukkah celebration to his repertoire, lighting the first candle on the town’s new menorah for Middleburg’s first annual Hanukkah celebration and serving up latkes on the final night of Hanukkah.

“Shopkeeper, businessman, board member, international fisherman, game winner, friend, and a producer of lights on a Christmas tree to a menorah, Mark Metzger is our Town Figure for 2021,” Lee announced.

In accepting the award, Metzger noted that Middleburg is a great town. “It’s a fun place to live, a fun place to work, great people,” he said.

Also among those receiving an award at the meeting was Albert Patterson, co-owner of Mr. Print. A veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, Patterson received the Resilience Award for his perseverance throughout the pandemic. “The presses all but totally stopped, so creativity and innovation set in,” Lee said, noting that Mr. Print plans to add new digital services including social media and web site work to its offerings.

Another fixture in the Middleburg community recognized at the meeting was Mary Ann Burns, who received the Volunteer of the Year Award for her community service. The Burns family opened the second location for Old Ox Brewery in Middleburg just two-and-a-half years ago, but Mary Ann has already made a large imprint on the town, including her service as the head of the Middleburg Arts Council and leadership in creating community events such as Oktoberfest and a Dickens Christmas in Middleburg.

“We’re all very glad that she is sharing her knowledge and contacts with us,” Lee said, noting that Burns is always happy to help at any level.

Receiving the Behind-the-Scenes Person Award was Robin Rose, who has been the master baker behind The Upper Crust‘s bakery creations for more than 20 years.  “She’s still baking sweet treats, always adding new temptations for all to enjoy,” Lee said. “You don’t see her working the counter too often, but when you do, she has a ready smile and takes the time to chat and catch up on friends and family news. Take a bite of a fresh cookie or one of her delicious pies or caramel cake and you know Robin is right there with you.”

Also receiving an award was Scruffy’s Ice Cream Parlor, which Hilleary Bogley opened 33 years ago as a way to raise money for animals in need at the Middleburg Humane Foundation.

“Hilleary Bogley has always had a love of animals, and in particular, the uncared and unloved, and her love and determination to help knew no boundaries and certainly no size. Dogs, cats, birds, mules, horses, cows, donkeys — whatever needed help, she welcomed all,” said Lee.

Bogley’s efforts have changed since then to helping other local rescue groups and enforcing the safety and well-being  of animals through law enforcement. In 2018, Bogley added a thrift shop to Scruffy’s as a source of regular income for local animal rescue leagues. All told, the efforts raised more than $5,000 this year to support local animal rescues, mainly directed for emergency medical funding. For its efforts on behalf of animals, Scruffy’s received the Perseverance Award.

The Middleburg Business and Professional Association also recognized Antwan Montford with the Frontline Employee of the Year Award. Montford, who joined the Middleburg post office less than two years ago, has made an indelible mark on the community in that time. Montford, who served for 12 years in the military, including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, is currently working on a college degree in psychology and will be relocating with his family to Miami.

“When your parcel or your mail is handed over the counter with a smile from here to tomorrow, you take notice and definitely smile back,” Lee said. “Customer service with a smile; that is definitely our postman, Antwan Montford.”

The celebration also included the announcement of the winners of MBPA’s window-decorating contest. The Tack Box won the award for Best Dickens Theme Window, The Middleburg Bride won Best Use of Product with a Dickens Theme, Americana won an award for Most Beautiful, Playroom took an award for Holiday Cheer, and Middleburg Common Grounds won for Outdoor Lighting and Decoration. Honorable mentions included The Byrne Gallery, Crème de la Crème, and Loyal Companion.

The evening served as the year’s final Biz Buzz, a monthly networking event held on the second Tuesday of the month, except in January. These events bring local business owners and professionals together to network, provide local businesses with an opportunity to showcase their facilities and services, and help to spread the word about interesting news and events in the Middleburg community.

The next Biz Buzz will be held Feb. 8, 2022, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. We hope to see you there!