"This goes back to 2000," Parnick Jennings, the event's original creator said. "One of the thought processes [that inspired this event] came from being behind a sanitation truck on Railroad Street one day and seeing how hard they were working in the rain and really nobody is thanking them."
Jennings added that retirees are welcome as well.
The luncheon, open to all Bartow County government employees, municipalities, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency response personnel, included steak, chicken and an assortment of vegetable side dishes and desserts.
ShawHankins LLC is the main sponsor for the luncheon, providing all of the capital funding for the event, Jennings said. The Daily Tribune News and WBHF 1450 AM also sponsor the event.
This year's speakers included Scott Hankins, Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini, Commissioner Clarence Brown and others.
While the luncheon was mainly designed as a buffet, to-go plates were available as well for officers and other public workers who lacked the time or ability to sit down with their fellow co-workers.
Before the program began at noon, a team of Emergency Medical Technicians received response tones from Bartow County Dispatch over their portable radios. Performing their daily duties, the team hurried away from their table and received a disregard call before fully exiting the building and returned for a slight break to accept the community's thanks.
"It really makes you feel appreciated," Susan Hamrick of the Clerk of Superior Court's office said. "There are a lot of, what seems like, thankless people out there so this is great."
A nearly full ballroom stood together as the Bartow County Honor Guard presented the colors and Bartow County Fire Department Capt. Mark Bagley spoke in remembrance of those who have "paid the ultimate sacrifice" in the line of duty.
Following tradition in honor of fallen local heroes, the fire service bell signal of 5-5-5 was sounded. Bagley explained that the tones symbolized the return of firefighters going home and now serves for all public servants who have perished in the line of service and arrived at their final home.
On a lighter tone, while enjoying the gathering and laughing with friends, Bartow County Sheriff's Office Superior Court deputies Mike Presley and Sam Butler shared a common thought.
"It's like a family reunion," Butler said. "You get to see people you don't normally see."
"We very seldom get together," Presley said.