Tracy’s Chamber banquet on the horizon

By Per Peterson

It might be taking place a bit later in the year than usual, but the Tracy Area Chamber of Commerce’s show will go on.

The 117th Annual Chamber banquet is scheduled for Friday, April 16, at The Caboose. The party will begin with a social hour at 5:30 p.m., followed by a meal at 6 p.m. and the awards ceremony at 7 p.m. This year’s entertainment will be provided by Tracy’s own Kayla Daniels.

“In January and February, we kind of just let it go, because all of our events in 2020 were pretty much cancelled — we didn’t really plan for it because we knew with COVID it might not be possible,” said Chamber Director Lexi Erickson.

Erickson also happens to be a member of the Southwest Minnesota Chamber Executives, which meets quarterly. From the last meeting at the end of February, she learned that what cities are doing this year for their banquets is all over the map.

“Half of them said they were doing a normal banquet, some are doing a partial virtual event, and some of them are doing a fully virtual banquet,” said Erickson. “With our ability to use The Caboose, with some of the restrictions being lifted and with the vaccines, we felt like people would be more comfortable in coming out.”

The banquet will be similar to years past, with the exception being it will be held on a Friday this year, as opposed to the traditional Saturday.

“We just wanted to try something different this year,” said Erickson. “It’s the year to try something new.”

Awards handed out each year include “Boss of the Year” (last year’s winner was Mark Parenteau), “Farmer of the Year” (Brian Hicks) “Volunteer of the Year” (Dru Larson), “Chamber Member of the Year” (Lori Alf), “Outstanding Citizen” (Dean Salmon) and the “Diamond Award” (Tracy Community Band). Selection committees for this year’s awards have been meeting and, as in years past, previous winners are offering their feedback to determine this year’s winners.

“We wanted to make sure that we still honor our hard-working community members and make sure they get the recognition that they deserve,” said Erickson. “We did discuss, as a board, if we would want to just select the winners because of COVID and the short notice, but we all thought it was important to get the previous year’s winners’ input.

Tickets for the Chamber banquet are still available at the Chamber office downtown, Tracy Food Pride and Minnwest Bank.

The event is open to the public, and you need not be a Chamber member to attend. Donations for the silent auction are also still being accepted.