Community gathers for 2023 Stars of Somerset celebration


It was a warm summer evening for the 2023 Stars of Somerset celebration in Crisfield, honoring winners of the annual County Times readers’ poll. The community enjoyed a fun night in Somers Cove Marina on Aug. 17.

This summer, readers had voted for their favorite businesses, nonprofits and community leaders in the 2023 Stars of Somerset contest. Winners were announced at the free community celebration, with food, cocktails, music by DJ Buddy Ward and winner photos with their awards (See the whole photo gallery online at

The Stars contest has over 100 categories, from favorite fine dining and sweets to events and workplaces.

“We love to celebrate the local businesses who are the best at what they do,” said Konrad LaPrade, publisher. “I’m honored to be able to work in a community where business owners and workers do such a good job that our readers go out of their way to nominate and then vote for them!”

A special part of the program was the Person of the Year Award, presented to three individuals for their community service.

John Willard “Jay” Tawes of Crisfield has been named the 2023 Stars of Somerset Person of the Year. His family accepted the award on his behalf, including daughter, Jayna, who now runs the family business, Tawes Insurance.

Ever since he was a teenager, Tawes said he planned to come back after college and support the community, which has included numerous civic and business organizations.

“I think God has put it in my mind, back when I was 16, and it has been relentless. It’s just a desire to help people,” Tawes said. “I do it because … God’s been good to me, so I’m paying him back. I’m paying my community back.”

Robert Hunt was a finalist for Person of the Year, due to his ongoing service as a Crisfield City Public Works employee and an emergency responder for two agencies—both firefighting and driving ambulance.

Shelley Johnson was a finalist for Person of the Year, due to her community advocacy on the Princess Anne Town Commission, as an educator/childcare owner and member of many organizations working toward a safer and more equitable future.

For the full list of Stars finalists and winners, plus Person of the Year interviews, read the “Stars of Somerset” publication online.

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.