“We are still finalizing the numbers, but the event was quite successful, raising over $100,000,” gala co-chair and Round Top Family Library Association board member Julie Wantland tells Roundtop.com.

“Funds raised will cover about 80 percent of our annual operating expenses. The library receives a small annual funding grant from the town and no financial support from the state, so fundraising events like the gala and our annual chili cookoff are our primary source of funds.”

Wrangler’s Gala co-chair Julie Wantland (right) pauses for a photo with Round Top resident and library supporter Chris Hallman.

In addition to covering basic operating costs, the money raised at the Wrangler’s Gala will go toward a wide variety of offerings provided by the library for both kids and adults. The Summer Education and Enrichment program, and the free art after school program provided for fourth through sixth graders via the library’s partnership with ARTs for Rural Texas are some of the many ways that the Round Top library serves the community. As a full-service library, RTFL also provides free Wi-Fi inside and out, plus yoga classes and computer instruction for seniors. It also hosts a regular lecture series and local writers as part of its ‘Author, Author’ program. Gardening classes, pre-school story time, and summer reading programs for children are also part of the library’s extensive list of offerings – all supported with help from a vibrant community of volunteers.

Gala committee member Kathy Young and her husband Dale were perfection on the porch.

Round Top Family Library is a true community hub.

In fact, Round Top is the smallest town in Texas (population 91) to boast a full-service library. Founded in 1999, Round Top Family Library has expanded from the original building (the historic Rummel Haus, circa 1872) to take over the beautifully restored Hope Lutheran Church (circa 1925), which was painstakingly transferred from its original location in Milam County and now serves as the main library building. The newest addition to the library campus is the Activity Annex. Added to the property in 2018, it houses a large main building that serves as a meeting and activity center. There is also a small art annex and a junior master gardener’s building nearby. Meanwhile, the RTFL board is dreaming up new ways to expand its offerings on the annex property. 

“Looking forward, we are considering converting the space where a large tin barn sits today into a community meeting and auditorium space,” Wantland shares. “That would be a large project that would require a capital campaign to raise the funds. So we believe it will be a few years in the making.”

No doubt the generous Round Top community will come together to make this newest dream a reality. At the Wrangler’s Gala alone, the library benefitted from a group of 35 underwriters and more than 50 donors who gave cash, or auction items, which were quickly and successfully sold during a highly charged auction run by Heather Kaspar of Buck Up Auctions. Ninety percent of the tables purchased by sponsors including Round Top Real Estate and Round Top State Bank were premium tables. 

The Wranger’s Gala has been held every other year since 2008. (The library hosts a less formal fundraiser in odd years to thank the community for its support and honor the library’s volunteers at its ‘Books, Boots & BBQ’ event.) Nearly 250 locals attended this year’s Wrangler’s Gala, including Round Top Mayor Mark Massey and First Lady Kasey Massey, Round Top Alderwoman Amy Bone with her husband John, Cinda and Armando Palacio of Hotel Lulu, Red & White Gallery owners Joan and Jerry Herring, and Laurie & John Lowery of Humble Donkey Studio. Also in attendance were longterm library benefactors Jean and Frank Raymond. Guests of honor included nine local first responders and their spouses, who were recognized with an introduction by Fayette County Emergency Management’s Craig Moreau, and a tribute performed by Van-Lang Music in remembrance of 9/11.

First Lady Kasey Massey and Mayor Mark Massey.

“The Wrangler’s Gala was a definite success. We had such a fun time chatting with fellow RTFL supporters, bidding on items and enjoying an amazing dinner – especially those killer mashed potatoes in the martini glass. The live auction had a fun energy, and the 9/11 tribute was a touching moment as well,” Mayor Mark Massey and Kasey Massey noted.

In addition to musical entertainment from Van-Lang, Wrangler’s Gala attendees were treated to a spectacular dinner provided by Celebrations Events and Catering of LaGrange that included a bountiful salad and fruit bar, beef tenderloin, shrimp skewers and a delightful mashed potato bar. Dinner was followed by decadent desserts from Round Top favorite Lollitop Sweetshop.  

Marie and Jim Merryman enjoying the first course.

“We would like to offer a huge thank you to Windy Knoll Ranch owners Kalli O’Malley and Terry Giles, and managers Lauren and Jake Woodward and Donnie Blackater,” Wantland says. “They generously allowed the library to host our event at their beautiful venue, and their staff worked tirelessly to make sure everything went smoothly.

“We would [also] like to recognize and thank the great committee of volunteers who came together to plan and carry off a safe, fun, and memorable event for our community.”   

Judy Hancock (left) with Ed and Suzanne Ellis.
L to R: Avery Nelius (one of RTFL’s youngest volunteers) leans in with mom Ashley Nelius, Mary Leitko, Emily Siemsglusz and Barbara Smith.

Go to the RTFL website and social media channels to learn more about how you can support the library, and for details on its next fundraiser, the RTFL Annual Chili Cook Off, which is scheduled for January 15.

The barn at Windy Knoll makes for an impressive setting.