As times change, it is important for organizations to adjust to expectations of its members. That is what we are trying to do with changes to our annual meeting and celebration scheduled Feb. 17 at the Manhattan Conference Center. Our outgoing Chair Summer Ott Dierks set out to make this year’s event something people will enjoy, not just for the awards, but also because it is an opportunity to celebrate a great year together.
In addition to a name change from Annual Banquet to Annual Meeting and Celebration, the main changes to the event are the move from plated dinner to food stations. This provides better options for people in not only the choices of food but the ability to get as much or little as you would like. Additionally, there will be substantial networking after the program, a shift from previous years when the event would end after the program. There will also be the addition of a band.
The tentative schedule for the annual celebration is as follows:
5:45 p.m. – Doors open
6:15 p.m. – Program begins
7:45 p.m. – Dinner and networking featuring food stations and a band
As with most things in life, changes bring rumors and misinformation, so I wanted to take a few moments to clarify some of the questions we have received.
- Will I have a place to sit for the program? Everyone will have an assigned seat at a table just like previous events. There will be snacks and drinks at the table.
- Are we getting a meal with our ticket? While there won’t be a plated meal, there will be several food stations that allow guests to pick and choose those items they wish to have. This includes a carving station as well as a couple of other areas with substantial offerings.
- Can I still dress up for the event? The dress for this year’s event will be the same as before, business dress.
- If the food is after the program, aren’t we eating awfully late? Actually, by moving the networking to the end, we will begin dinner about 20 minutes later than previous events.
- Is the program changing? The program will be the same as other years with the ceremonial passing of the gavel from Summer to 2023 Chair Mark Knackendoffel and the awarding of our three annual individual awards, the Lud Fiser Citizen of the Year, the C. Clyde Jones Volunteer of the Year and the Young Professional of the Year.
The changes we are implementing are not unique in the Chamber world. Most organizations like ours are constantly evolving to keep their programs fresh and keep members engaged. We had received feedback from members that they believed it was time for a change.
I want to thank Summer and Mark for their leadership through the process. It isn’t easy to be the first one to do things different. But it is important, and I appreciate their vision.
You can register for this year’s celebration here.