The Best Party of the Year

By Juli Thibault

It doesn’t take long once you’re in the business circuit, for-profit or not, entrepreneur or junior associate, for you to hear about 40underForty in the Pioneer Valley.

Being a member of YPS, I’ve met many who have been past recipients of the BusinessWest award. Each proudly state their year of nomination with the enthusiasm of a new graduate. I couldn’t help get the feeling these alums are part of a special network of other professionals throughout the valley, and I wanted to be a part of it.

You can always tell when the new batch of nominees is announced; the jumbo-size publication hits your desk with 40 excited faces. Always recognizing someone, I flip to their half-page spread and see the signature photos that have become the hallmark of this event. Passions, hobbies and achievements bounce off the page, drawing me in even more.

Gasps were heard around the table as I stated to my fellow YPS board members that I haven’t been to a previous 40underForty event. Most of our board are proud alums, and everyone excitedly reminisced about their year, and all joked their induction year was the BEST year. By the end of our meeting, I had an invitation to attend, and I felt as if I was just asked to prom.

So what did I expect? I expected an event similar to that of YPS but on a larger scale. What I walked into was a ceremony that elegantly married success and recognition.

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect that Thursday afternoon with blue skies, puffy white clouds and warm sunshine, well, hot sunshine at times. The Log Cabin outdid itself with an amazing reception area that overlooked green mountains and valleys. Women had beautiful gowns and dresses; the men, dapper in their suits.

And then, it begins. The night kicks off with witty, creative videos from sponsors, setting the stage for a relaxed, entertaining night. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the nominees went to receive their award. Something typical? A name call, audience claps, and on to the next recipient? I should have known BusinessWest would flip the script. Each nominee had a theme song and their half page spread appeared on the jumbo-screens. The audience was standing up, dancing and cheering for their friend, family member or colleague. It was contagious!

After the last name was honored, which came too quickly in my opinion, some of us enjoyed dusk outside on the patio. I guess this event could be considered networking, but it felt more natural, like we were all at a party and knew the host.

The event exceeded my expectations and I can see why it’s the biggest event of the year. The bond that is created between each years’ class is something special and dignitary in its own right. I drove away that night not only thinking what theme song I would choose, but hopeful one day I can join the 40underForty alumnae.