The Monett Chamber of Commerce found success in its year-end projects. Chamber board members reviewed efforts at their December, 2012 meeting.
Around 200 people attended the ninth annual Festival of Flavors on Nov. 13, 2012. Competing events were felt to have impacted the crowd, but organizers said both vendors and diners enjoyed the event.
Special thanks has been extended to the First United Methodist Church for hosting the Festival of Flavors for the second year. Plans are underway to hold the 2013 dinner there at the church.
Going into the final weeks of the Festival of Lights, chamber executive director Jeff Meredith reported traffic had been up. Meredith attributed publicity from the theft of wires to stirring up interest from out-of-town visitors.
Vehicles from around the four states youred the light display. More than 100 volunteers staffed the chamber's elf hut collecting donations, handing out candy canes and counting vehicles in the six weeks of the Festival of Lights.
Board members discussed purchasing more lights for downtown Monett. Businesses have approached Meredith about adding to the displays at South Park, which are now on sale.
The chamber added a tractor to the display purchased with 2011 donations, showing an elf loading strawberries on a wagon. The Gabby Gibbons family added an elf dribbling a basketball in honor of the late Purdy basketball coach and community leader.
Entries at the annual Christmas parade rose by 50 percent, from 62 to 92 this year.
Meredith said assistance by Shaun Bennett helped to get the downtown loudspeaker system back in working order for. The sound system should prove useful during Broadway Nights and the Strawberry Festival, he added.
Plans are underway for the annual membership meeting, which will be held on Thursday, March 7 at the Scott Regional Technology Center. "Monett Express," the same theme as the Christmas parade, will provide the focus for the evening.
Regina Bowsher will serve as chairperson for the event. Jim Haston will handle master of ceremonies duties.
Nominations are being accepted for board members for the coming year. Positions are currently held by Keith McCracken, Doug Children and Noel George. President Walter Branch will step down to the past president's seat. Regina Bowsher will cycle out of that slot, completing four years on the board. A regular board term is three years.
Nominations are now open for the chamber's two major awards. The Community Service Award will be given for longtime contributions to the Monett community. The Pride and Progress Award will be given for shorter service on a specific area.
A new award will be introduced this year. Nominations are also being taken for Industry of the Year.
Anyone, not just a chamber member, can nominate a small business or industry, Meredith said. Nominees will be given five questions to answer, which will be assessed by a panel of judges. The chamber board will select the winner from three finalists.
Four States Office Products and Atlas Risk Management are sponsoring the new award.
In upcoming events, the annual agriculture conferences have been scheduled for March 5 at the National Guard Armory in Monett. The dairy show will be held in the morning and the beef/cattlemen's conference will be held in the evening. A meal will be provided by the chamber at both sessions.
Todd Schubert is chairman for both conferences, and will be assisted by Keith McCracken. University of Missouri Extension Service specialists Dr. Tony Rickard and Eldon Cole will select the speakers.
Vendors interested in having a booth for the trade show, the largest gathering focused on agriculture held in Monett, can contact the chamber office at 235-7919 to make arrangements.
As a way to continue promoting agriculture for young people, in the absence of the Monett Junior Livestock Show, the chamber is looking at launching an Ag Business Academy in the coming year. Meredith said the program will provide hands-on experience for two high school seniors. The winners will get to work with local farmers to learn some tricks of the trade in the field, but learn tools like computer apps for farming.
In other upcoming events, the chamber's government affairs committee will reactivate and provide programs with area lawmakers. Longtime committee chairman Jack Schulz has agreed to help.
The Harlem Ambassadors, a basketball team similar to the Globetrotters, has been booked for a fundraising game on Sunday, Sept. 22, at Monett High School. Sponsors and people willing to play are being sought.
New members joining the chamber in the past month include the Insurance Center, of Joplin; State Representative Scott Fitzpatrick and Four States Dental Care, which opened a new office in the Sunrise Plaza on Highway 60.
Business has remained steady at the license office, Meredith reported. The volume of traffic in recent weeks has been comparable to past years, with year-end vehicle purchases providing a boost to business.
The next chamber board meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Jan. 16.