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Perham Chamber to take over Turtle Fest

The board of the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce has agreed to bring Turtle Fest under its wing.

In addition, the chamber will be taking over leadership of Perham’s annual Parade of Lights and Rib Cook-Off, starting next year.

The Perham Lions announced in July that the club was no longer willing to act as the financial and communications hub for Turtle Fest, and no other community groups have stepped forward to take over that role.

In an effort to secure the future of Turtle Fest and the other events, the chamber board voted Oct. 15 to take on the extra workload that coordinating and fundraising for these events will require.

“I think it’s the right place for these community events to be (headquartered),” said chamber board member Nick Theroux. “The chamber has an organization to take this on – an office, phone and staff – and civic and community organizations don’t necessarily have that capacity.”

Designating the chamber as the “go-to” place for information on the events makes sense, he said, “because the chamber is an organization that can keep it all together, and it’s a place to share that information.”

At the end of the day, however, the events still will be primarily planned and paid for by groups and individuals within the community. The Perham Center for the Arts, for example, will remain in charge of its Turtle Fest art and craft show. Having the chamber as the overall coordinator for Turtle Fest will provide the arts center with a person to contact during the planning and promotional process.

Fundraising still will be necessary to pay for Turtle Fest and other events, with money raised coming from local businesses, community groups and individuals. The chamber will be in charge of fundraising.

Chamber Director Dan Schroeder said in an interview last week that the chamber’s staff, structure and budget would undergo changes due to the additional workload. He has been tasked with putting together a staff restructuring plan to cover the extra duties within the chamber’s budget.

That plan is to be submitted to the board the first week of November.

Once a new plan is in place, coordination of the events can begin, starting with Turtle Fest. Fundraising for Turtle Fest is scheduled to be wrapped up by March 1.

Theroux said the chamber will not be “subsidizing” events the way the Lions Club did. The size and extent of the festival will depend on how much money is raised.

More information on fundraising, as well as coordinator and event contacts, will be released later this year.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their young son and daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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