The rain was coming down hard. Traffic was horrific. And it was hard to find the buses. But they came. Candy Industry’s 72nd Kettle Awards reception continued to be the premiere event of the U.S. confectionery industry and a powerful draw.

Besides, what are a few raindrops and traffic angst — most urban dwellers should be familiar with that experience — when compared to seeing the who’s who in the sweetest of industries? As always, the Main Dining Room at the Union League Club once again impressed all with its stately grandeur.

And then there were the nominees: Shawn Askinosie, founder and ceo of Askinosie Chocolate; Sara Clair, director of product development from Brown & Haley; Steve Genzoli, v.p of quality assurance and research and develeopment from Ghirardelli Chocolate Co.; and Kirk Vashaw, ceo from Spangler Candy Co. Each one of them epitomized what leadership and service stand for in the industry.

As Robert Dono, confectionery manager for Bosch and this year’s Kettle Committee chairman, explained, “Each of our nominees can be proud of their distinguished service and track records of success. However, only one will be chosen as this year’s award recipient.”

And so it was. A hush came over the crowd as Kettle Committee Secretary, Dave Madison from Carle & Montanari/OPM, brought the suitcase carrying the envelope to Chairman Dono.

“This year’s recipient is…Sara Clair,” he announced. Clair’s face glowed with delight, surprise and amazement, almost matching the color of her red dress. It was a momentous occasion in the annals of the Kettle Awards, since this marks only the second time that a husband-and-wife team has captured the prize. It’s also the third time a woman has been selected.

Clair’s glow now matched that of the actual kettle.

See also: Method and moxie key for 72nd Kettle Award winner Sara Clair