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Local resident Pati Milligan got to hobnob with royalty recently. Then again, Patty can claim that she is actually related to English royalty.

She and her daughter, Mindy Reeves, attended the celebration recognizing the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta in Runnymede, England, in mid June.

Pati and Mindy, who is a psychiatrist in Manchester, England, were there as members of the National Society of Magna Charta Dames and Barons, meaning that they are descendants of one of the 25 barons who signed the historic document in 1215. Actually, the Texans are descended from nine of the barons and King John himself.

“We told some of the English people we met that we were also descended from King John, and they said that was nothing to brag about,” Pati said with a smile.

Indeed, John is known as one of the worst monarchs to sit on the English throne and is often referred to as “Bad King John” by historians. After a rebellion by his barons in 1215, John was forced to sign the Magna Carta, which gave certain rights to his subjects. The document is considered the foundation of modern democracy and influenced this country’s Founding Fathers in the construction of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Queen Elizabeth, husband Prince Philip and grandson Prince William were among the royal family members to make the journey to Runnymede, a meadow west of London, where the historic document was signed.

“We didn’t make the stage but we were pretty close to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Prime Minister David Cameron, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Prince William, Princess Anne and her husband,” Pati said. “Mindy could have touched Prince William as they drove away. They fed us a lovely lunch and the ceremony itself lasted about an hour. It was so exciting.”

There were 1,000 Americans in attendance, with American Bar Association members representing the lion’s share of the foreigners. In fact, the ABA, not the British, dedicated the first monument in the field in Runnymede in 1957. The organization recognized that the Magna Carta paved the way for core legal principles such as due process of law, habeas corpus, trial by jury and the right to a speedy trial.

In addition to the ceremony, the Texans attended a lecture at Royal Holloway University by Jack Straw, the former home secretary, foreign secretary and justice minister. His lecture, “National Security and the Rule of Law,” looked at the difficult balance between civil liberties and security in today’s society.

They also visited Lincoln Cathedral, which possesses one of four original copies of the Magna Carta.

Pati’s mother was interested in genealogy and discovered the connection while doing research in 1980. As a member of the National Society of Magna Charta Dames and Barons,
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she was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace when she was still alive, Pati said.

“Happy Birthday” to the Margarita and Salsa Festival. The popular event turns 20 this year and will be held on Aug. 29 at the Extraco Events Center.

All proceeds benefit the scholarship program at the Heart O’ Texas Fair Rodeo.

This is one of the larger music events on the Waco calendar with an average of 10,000 attendees. Party goers can expect a great lineup of entertainers providing plenty of country music. Headlining this year’s festival will be Ryan Bingham, who won an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Critics’ Choice Award for “Best Song” in 2010, as well as a Grammy for “Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media” in 2011 for “The Weary Kind” from the film “Crazy Heart.”

Also appearing at the festival will be William Clark Green and the Randy Rogers Band.

As far as food and drink go, festival organizers are bringing back the destination tents for taste testing. The destination tents will have Cajun, Mexican, Hawaiian and Texas themes with corresponding salsa and specialty drinks. The margarita contest returns this year after an absence of a few years. The contest is open to the first 15 people who sign up and will take place on stage before the music begins. The festival also will introduce a shot bar, with shots available for purchase in a special area.

The Margarita and Salsa Festival began as a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. The Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo partnered with the foundation in 2006.

“The first year we were able to put $20,000 towards our Heart O’ Texas Fair Rodeo Scholarship Fund,” said Charva Ingram, marketing and public relations manager. “Since then we have averaged between $25,000 and $50,000 a year. In 2013, the event became solely our event. This will be the third year for all net proceeds to go solely towards the scholarship fund.

“Everything we do out here at the Extraco Events Center works towards increasing our scholarship fund and the amount we give out each year. We would love to get to $1 million annually, but we’ll start with a goal of $500,000. Tickets cost $31 in advance and $36 at the door. VIP tickets are available for $150 and are inclusive for food and drink and feature seating in a special shaded area. To purchase tickets, visit Ticketmaster or the Extraco Events Center box office. For more information, call 776 1660.

Are you looking for a new “It” handbag for the season? Do you love animals? Well, you can combine the two by attending the Bag Lady Luncheon on Aug. 7 in the Brazos Room at the Waco Convention Center.

Now in its third year, the luncheon raise funds for the Humane Society of Central Texas. Handbags that are brand spanking new or have little to no wear are donated and will be auctioned during the event.

Additionally, the luncheon will feature the signature Uptown Trio salad from Sironia Uptown Caf served by some of Waco’s firefighters, who also will serve champagne.

“This is a chance to buy some really cute handbags for not much money,” said Lorrie Dicorte, who helped organize the event. “For example, last year I bought a Michael Kors bag that retails for $250 for $75. We aren’t trying to get the retail price; we just want people to have fun and support a good cause.”

Lorrie did say the better handbags, including a new Louis Vuitton bag, will be sold during the audible auction, but most of the bags will be sold in the silent auction. Jewelry and other accessories also will be for sale at the event.

Tickets for the Bag Lady Luncheon cost $50 or $400 for a table for eight.

Don Bland, executive director of the Humane Society, said the Bag Lady Luncheon and the Wine Festival in October are the two fundraising events that keep the nonprofit organization up and running.

“These events help us to subsidize the adoptions of our animals,” Don said. “It costs about $72 to adopt an animal, but we only charge $50 per adoption, and we often host free adoption days to move as many animals as possible.

“You can find wonderful animals at the shelter. I adopted a full blood Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever from the shelter. We get purebred dogs all the time, but some of the best dogs are not purebred,
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” he said.