A total of 175 business leaders from the Detroit Lakes area came together Thursday night for the annual Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce banquet.
The event, which is believed to be the 93th annual, was held in Frazee for the first time ever.
The Frazee Event Center was host to the event, as Spanky’s Stone Hearth of Frazee catered it.
Keeping with tradition, there were three board members exiting to make room for new members on the board —The Nines owner Lauren Zima, Dave Baer of Markuson Baer Insurance, Kevin McCullough of Precision Printing and Dale Wesley from M State.
LaBarista Owner Brooke Wenzel, who served as interim chair for six month, handed out the awards, which included the Chairman’s Awards to Precision Printing for business and Dave Karsnia of David-Donehower Funeral Home for individual.
Karsnia was recognized for “being a familiar face at all the chamber functions, such as the sunrise socials,” as well as his service in the Noon Rotary and the Knights of Columbus.
The Tourism Award, which goes to a business in the area that helps keep tourism strong locally, went to Rainbow Resort. Chamber President Carrie Johnston called the resort “active in promoting winter sports through snowmobile and ski trails.”
“They are hosts to many events that bring tourists year round,” said Johnston. “Their passion for birding and photography helps visitors see the beauty of our area.”
The Rising Star Award went to Kristina Seifert of Rural Minnesota CEP/ Workforce Center in Detroit Lakes.
The award, which goes to somebody who shows leadership and an a willingness to contribute, was a surprise to Seifert, who served on a variety of chamber committees last year including the 2013 Tour of Manufacturing and the 2014 Health Career Fest.
“A lot of it had to do with employment and training, which is my passion,” said Seifert, “but when I got in there and started getting to know people on a business level, I wanted to get more involved.
“Now I’m finding myself on more and more committees, and it’s fun because I love helping to build this community.”
The Detroit Lakes School District was also recognized for its positive contributions to the community, earning this year’s Chamber/Essentia Health-St.Mary’s Wellness Award.
“They have formed a wellness committee that meets monthly; they have adopted a wellness policy which will be reviewed annually,” said Johnston. “It covers topics including exercise, stress management, healthy foods, and wellness screenings.
“A healthy field trip is organized for each grade level in their organization to participate in every year, along with a fitness grant that goes home to students two times a year.”
Wenzel passed the chairman’s gavel over to Brianna Adams of Sanford Health.
“It was really nice working with everybody from Detroit Lakes,” Wenzel told the crowd. “My husband and I moved here five years ago to start a business and raise a family, and it really is an amazing place.”
Upon receiving the gavel, Adams said her goal as chair — and for everybody in the audience — is to try new things this year.
“Progress always involves risk,” she said, quoting F.W. Dupee. “You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”
The Chamber Banquet is an event that is rich in tradition, one that has been required by bi-laws since its official inception in 1921.
“This is just a great place to get to know each other,” said Johnston of the annual banquet. “There are 175 business leaders in one room.
“Sometimes in a small town you think you know everybody, but then you come to something like this and you’re like, oh, maybe I don’t know everybody…so it’s a great place to network.”