January 1,  2010

UPDATE: Taylorsville, N.C.,
man wins Conner’s car giveaway


On New Year’s Eve, the Conner family capped off their year-long 50th anniversary celebration of their supermarket by hosting a block party in the store parking lot and drawing from 250 names to see which lucky customer would start the new decade one car richer. 

Several hundred people showed up to eat John Conner’s famous barbecue, visit with friends, and wait to find out who would take home the car.

The festivities began at 11 a.m., and the drawing was done in reverse—the 250 names were placed in a bin and drawn out one by one over the course of the day. The last man standing, so to speak, would take home a brand new burgundy 2009 Chevy HRR. 

After narrowing it down to just two people, the whole Conner gang—all of Bernice and John Conner Sr.’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren—mounted the makeshift stage, and John Conner IV drew the last two names out of the bin.

They waited until 3 p.m. on the dot to make the announcement.

“I know we’ve drug this thing out for 365-odd days, but we’re going to wait another five minutes,” Travis Salyers announced to the crowd.

In the end, the runner-up was Judy Kehler, and she received a $100 gift card to the store and a T-shirt. Dennis Waters, of Taylorsville, N.C., was the winner.

John Conner Jr. presented a delightfully shocked Waters with the keys to the car. After the photo-ops, Waters and his wife, Brenda, accepted handshakes and congratulations from those nearby and began the process of officially making the car theirs.

While finalizing the deal, Waters joked about the tension leading up to the final announcement.

“You said wait five minutes, and I thought I was going to die of a heart attack!” he said.

The Waters family, which had spend a lot of time on the islands this summer visiting Brenda’s parents’ house on Ocracoke, made the nearly nine-hour trip to Buxton—through snow and sleet and ice—just for the drawing. Just in case they won. 

And though they may have given away a car, it seems the Conners feel like the real winners.

“Thank you all for 50 great years,” John Conner Jr. said. “We appreciate you welcoming us to the island 50 years ago and letting us stay.

“We hope to be around for another 50.”

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