On Friday, Jan. 19, the Cedaredge Area Chamber of Commerce met to review accomplishments for 2017 and to honor local businesses, volunteers and nonprofit groups. Gathering in the town's historic Stolte Shed, chamber directors, members and guests were treated to dinner and drinks prepared by 4B's Brewery, Creekside Café, Cedaredge Food Town, Stoney Mesa Winery and Edge of Cedars Winery.
The list of cooperative caterers was typical of the collaborative effort which is the hallmark of chamber activities. One banquet attendee likened the gathering to a family reunion and the evening had that flavor: a congregation of individuals united by the common goal of promoting the health and success of local businesses and organizations. The chamber is growing. Membership has increased from 112 members in 2016 to a current group of nearly 200. Last year 63 participants attended the annual meeting; this year 85 signed up.
Kami Collins, executive director of the chamber, began the evening by acknowledging current members of the chamber board: Mitchell Gronenthal (Reve Portraits) is incoming president; Nick Streza (Deer Creek Village Realty), vice president; Phyllis Hoffman (Western Slope Long Term Care Solutions), secretary; and Dottie Whitlock, treasurer. Other chamber directors are David Starr (Starr's Guitars); Cindy Starr (Kauai Vacation Rentals); Nancy Hovde (HopeWest and Hospice); and Bruce Hovde (former Delta County Commissioner).
New board president Gronenthal reported that AppleFest -- one of the region's most popular events -- hosted 185 vendors and drew record crowds in 2017. He also highlighted two new chamber events that debuted last year -- First Friday Art Walks and a Halloween Trick or Treat Trail. The chamber plans to involve more businesses in the 2018 Halloween event but will defer leadership for this year's art walks to the new Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center. Last year the chamber partnered with the Town of Cedaredge to promote "Celebrate Cedaredge" activities. Responding to feedback, the chamber and town are planning to hold celebration events in June and August 2018. The August celebration will be timed to complement the annual Serenity Run that draws national and international participants to the area. The chamber will also work with the town to plan a patriotic event in July.
"Looking forward to 2018," Gronenthal announced, "we want the chamber, and the entire business community of Surface Creek, to thrive, not merely survive another year." He pledged that the board plans to "streamline and strengthen" current events and initiate promotions to encourage residents to "shop local" and "shift-your-shopping" to support area businesses. To realize his vision of the future, he asked that current chamber members reach out to non-members and encourage them to join because membership is an important business investment. He also asked members to provide feedback regarding how the chamber can best serve their needs.
Gronenthal then launched the evening of honors by recognizing Nancy Snowdon (psychologist) and Frank St. Peter (Edwards Jones financial advisor) whose board terms ended in December 2017. He also recognized past chamber board presidents Nancy Hovde and Nick Streza. Then Streza announced the nominees and winners of the 2017 chamber awards.
Business of the Year honors went to Stacy's on Main. Other nominated businesses were Creekside Café, Cedaredge Subway, Starr's Guitars, and Divine Experience Salon & Spa.
Volunteer of the Year honors went to David Starr. Other groups and individuals nominated in this category were the board of directors of The Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control (which recently changed its name to Surface Creek Animal Shelter), Deborah Shaffer, Cindy Starr, Trey Gronenthal and Mitchell Gronenthal.
Nonprofit of the Year honors went to the Surface Creek Historical Society. Other nonprofits nominated were Little Sprouts Community Preschool, Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control, Surface Creek Community Services and Cedaredge Food Bank, Friends of Cedaredge Library, and the Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church.
New and improved honors went to Creekside Café. Other nominees in this category were The Old Slaughterhouse Music Hall, Curtis McCrackin of Mountain Valley Realty, and The Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center.