Granbury might not be the Music City you would prefer, but it will still have some of that Nashville charm during the Handsome Hunks of Hood County event from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15 at the Lake Granbury Conference Center, 621 E. Pearl St.
Featuring a theme of Nashville Nights, the high-energy event will allow 10 local hunks to sing, dance, and strut their stuff while competing for the ultimate title — all the while raising money for a great cause: Ruth’s Place.
The following men are competing for the title:
Kristin Billington, executive director of Ruth’s Place, explained that the “Handsome Hunks” are chosen by volunteers and Billington herself.
"It’s basically someone who could use exposure or has a business to promote or knows a lot of people in the community,” she said.
As the event begins, each Hunk will have the chance to make an entrance in what Billington calls the “parade of hunks.”
"Once we kind of talk to the crowd for a minute, they will come from one side of the room and walk through the crowd and hype everybody up,” she said. “Then they'll exit, we'll do a little bit more then they'll come back out on stage and do their dance together. Then they'll exit and then each hunk will get two minutes solo to show their personality.”
Following a live auction and a dot race, the Hunks will come back onstage and perform a talent. Billington clarified, however, that the hunks don’t have to showcase a specific talent.
"It can be a skit, they can bribe the judges,” she said. “We tell them ‘talent’ so that maybe it'll be entertaining to the crowd. We just want to make sure that they have a good time.”
She said in previous years, former Hunks have performed a gymnastics routine and a glow stick routine (in place of flaming batons).
"It should be a lot of fun. I don't know what all they have up their sleeve,” Billington said.
While the judges will determine the Hunk of the Year, the community will determine who will win the People’s Choice Award.
"The People's Choice is whoever raises the most money individually for Ruth's Place," Billington said. “We will also have the QR code on the tables (with a direct link to their fundraising page) and a five-gallon bucket and people will put money in the bucket to vote on them as the People's Choice.”
The winner of the dot race will receive a TV donated by Kroger while live auction participants can bid on a stay in a condo in Galveston, a condo in South Padre, and a condo in Angel Fire, New Mexico.
The event will also include a stretch raffle (where a person stretches the raffle tickets the length of their arms to determine how many tickets they will receive) and a champagne and vodka pull featuring a bottle of Blanton bourbon whiskey.
There will be six judges including Brenda Coffman, Dr. Jennifer Smith, Joni Berry and Lydia Rybeck. One spot is currently unfilled, and the last judge will be chosen through a raffle drawing.
"If you come to the event, you can pay $20 for a raffle ticket, and then you might get to be a judge for the night,” Billington said. “That is a really sought-after position, because you get to choose the Hunk of the Year, and also, they like to bribe the judges. We've had guys bring champagne, roses and chocolates.”
Local financial advisor Tony Mobly and Tim Bubel, the 2022 Handsome Hunk of Hood County, will serve as emcees during the event.
While there wasn’t a Handsome Hunks event in 2023 due to a search for the next executive director, 2022’s event raised a total of $97,197.
"It's a significant portion of our budget, so it's a really important event for us to be successful,” Billington said.
Handsome Hunks was created in 2010 to serve as a fundraiser for Ruth’s Place, a nonprofit organization that provides high quality health care and social services to uninsured Hood County residents.
“All of the proceeds go to Ruth's Place,” Billington said. “Any Hood County resident that does not have health insurance can come to Ruth's Place. All you have to do is fill out an application, show proof of residency — which is any piece of mail with your name and address on it proving that you live in Hood County — and then we need a copy of your driver's license. That's it. We do ask for donations from our patients. If they can donate for the services they receive, great. We don't put a number on it. If you can donate, please do. If not, we get it.”
The Ruth’s Place Clinic is located at 1411 Crawford Ave., while the Ruth’s Place Community Outreach Center is in Oak Trail Shores at 2723 Maplewood St.
Billington explained the outreach center currently provides a weekday literacy program from 3:30-5:30 p.m. for Baccus Elementary School students who are testing below their grade level in reading.
“We are working on a lot of different programs for 2024,” she said. “For the Outreach Center, we have the GED program in place and then we're working on a couple of things with (Hood County) YMCA and with Pecan Valley (Centers for Behavioral and Developmental Healthcare). We do a lot with Cook Children's (Medical Center). They do the Parent Cafe training, so two of our staff members were just trained in the Parent Cafe classes, so those are going to be implemented this year.”
Billington said in 2023, the number of new patients seen at Ruth’s Place increased by 128% from 2022. Additionally, there were 1,837 patient encounters — an 11% increase from 2022.
"In 2023 we spent an average of $4,917 per month on lab tests, imaging, pathology, etc. needed to treat our patients,” Billington said. “We have a lot going on, but this money is super important for us to continue what we do."
Since Billington is the new executive director, this will be her first time attending a Handsome Hunks event. She said she is excited to see the high energy of the crowd and see everyone dressed in their boots, hats and sparkles throughout the night.
“I think it's going to be really fun to see the guys all dancing together on stage because they've had two dance practices so far, and it's been fun to watch the growth from just the first practice to the second practice,” she said. “I can't wait to see what they look like in three weeks. It's gonna be really fun.”
While tickets were not sold out for the event yet at the time of the interview, Billington encourages aspiring attendees to call Ruth’s Place at 817-573-6800 to check for availability of tickets.
For more information, visit ruthsplace.wixsite.com/ruthsplace.