I seem to be struggling today to keep my mind on the many, many Harvest Festival tasks at hand. Normally, I can multi-task with the best of 'em and whittle away even a long to-do list. But today, my focus is poor and I don't seem to be accomplishing all I had hoped.
My mind keeps replaying pictures. My stomach and my heart are recalling the deep despair. Social media threads share repetitive messages: "Where were you?" "We will never forget."
I know I will never forget.
I had just walked my boys, then second and fifth grades, into their elementary school. The morning news was on the television that hung from the ceiling in the commons area and a couple of staff members were standing beneath it, attention unwavering. Like a magnet to steel, I was drawn toward the TV when another mom came through the double doors in a panic. "Did you see it?"
The news coverage was difficult to follow at first, mostly because the commentators were still unsure exactly what was happening. School children kept filing by while the group of adults caught in a gaze continued to grow. I don't know how much time passed while I stared at the television. I don't know exactly how many other parents were paralyzed there with me. I do know, though, that my heart hurt and I was confident my safe little world would never be the same, even in central Nebraska.
I can't un-see the images of men and women in business suits running away from the clouds of ash. Or the firemen and first responders risking their own safety, their own lives, while moving in to perhaps save another. I can't erase the video clips of spouses in utter despair, police officers comforting witnesses, rescue dogs sniffing debris. Then there were the recordings of final phone messages and radio transmissions. It's all fresh, right there in the confines of my memory, as if I were reliving it again 18 years later.
I suppose folks in the generations older than me have similar recollections of Dec. 7, 1941. The country's shock following the bombings at Pearl Harbor have often been compared to 9/11, but the transmission of information and images was not even close to instantaneous.
Like many from the Pearl Harbor era do in December, I pause on this September anniversary date every year to remember the tragedy and honor the lives lost. I don't know why this particular year it seems to be capturing such a large portion of my attention, but it does. So, I've decided to give myself a little grace.
And on Sept. 12, I will make a concerted effort to recall the America I experienced "the day after." When politics and status and color didn't divide us. When the mantra was "united we stand." When we used our manners, hugged a little tighter and remembered our prayers.
I will never forget.
Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.
— Marjorie Moore
The first time I saw this quote, my instant reaction was, "oh yeah!" Look around ... Why is Gothenburg used as an example for many across the state, even the country? (i.e. All-America City) Because there are a whole host of residents willing to volunteer, willing to sacrifice their personal time to ensure the quality of life in Gothenburg sets the trend for others.
In the Chamber of Commerce world, we work with volunteers every day. Folks who serve on the board of directors give their time. Committee members give their time. People freely volunteer to help set up events, work during events and we never have to wonder if there will be enough people to clean up. Obviously, the Chamber is not unique in this.
Look at our theatre, our senior center, even our school system. We wouldn't have nearly the programs, events, rock-solid civic institutions that we enjoy in Gothenburg without the people here who are willing to give and give and give. Basically, we've built a culture, an expectation of volunteerism.
Of course there are those who seem to get called upon over and over. They are recognized for their generosity of time and they've proven they can get things done. There are others who are a bit more conservative taking on commitments, but still highly trustworthy.
Each of us has a responsibility to preserve the spirit of volunteering. The Gothenburg school system has made a conscious effort to teach our kids the value of doing something for others with no expectation of getting anything in return. But let's not leave this mission entirely to our educators. Ask your neighbor to come along when you're volunteering at church. Talk to the new guy at work about joining your favorite civic group. Get involved and help the rookies in town jump in feet first as well.
You can't always control your taxes, the people who move into your neighborhood or where you get to park at the grocery store, but you can control where you spend your spare time. You might as well make your community a better place.
Is anyone else looking forward to Harvest Festival 2019?
We're three weeks out from the 105th annual community celebration. The Chamber's special events committee has put together a fun lineup of All-American activities that run from Thursday evening, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Sept. 22. It's certainly going to be different this year with Ehmen Park back as the center of attention. I hope that has stirred some excitement.
The old standards take their traditional place in the event list: Dog-N-Jog on Thursday, parade on Saturday followed by lunch at the First United Methodist Church. And because it's been so popular the last couple of years, we're bringing back the Party in the Park from 5-7 pm on Friday. There's no school that day, so we're hoping to attract a bunch of kids and families to the park for games and food and fun. A new twist to Party in the Park is a couple of activities that are being hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in cooperation with the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition. "Not a Box" and "Block Party" are designed to get kids using their imagination. GECLC has been collecting boxes and tubes of all shapes and sizes for kids to create with. If you're wanting to participate as a business or organization and you haven't been contacted yet, give Casey Madsen a call at Learning Adventures Child Care Center, 537-5194.
We're also bringing back some ever-popular activities from years past. Arts in the Park will fill Ehmen Park on Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm. There is already a long list of vendors of all kinds, and they are still coming in. There will be plenty to see, along with food, music and performances by Gymnastic West and Dance Centre students. We're also giving bed races a try again. This was hilarious fun back in the mid-2000's. This time around, we're supplying the beds to make it easier to get involved. We just need teams of three to make the beds and then push them the length of the block. Themes, fun team names and costumes are encouraged. We'll give prizes for the fastest finish and the Best of Show. Pick up registration forms at the Chamber or download them online.
The Lions Club will serve breakfast in the park on Sunday and the Harvest Festival car show will also return, filling Ehmen Park from 11 am to 3 pm. We're expecting 100 vehicles or more, so there's surely something of interest for everyone. We'll have food in the park and live music by Rascal Martinez from noon to 2 pm. Bring the family and your lawn chairs for the day.
In addition to the familiar activities, we've also added a few new ones. The Gothenburg MOPS group will serve breakfast burritos on wheels before the parade. They'll be peddling their wares up and down Lake Avenue as well as in the park. At 1 pm on Saturday, Stone Hearth Estates is hosting Golden Games in the park. This will be a variety of activities that older folks can participate in, but I'm sure they'll let people of any age join. There's no pre-registration, just show up and have a good time.
After the bed races, head down to 10th Street in front of the Sun Theatre. There will be a cornhole tournament to benefit the Gothenburg Legion Baseball program, a beer garden, food and music beginning at 4 pm. Cornhole is drawing a lot of interest. Get your registration forms at the Chamber office or the Sun Theatre.
And one more new activity is the YMCA co-ed softball tournament at the Four-Plext on Sunday afternoon. Get a group of friends or co-workers who may or may not be athletically inclined and make a day of it. There are plenty of laughs during slow-pitch softball and the more teams we have, the more fun it will be.
The Chamber of Commerce is the hub of information for Harvest Festival. If you've got a question or a suggestion (or even a complaint), give us a call at 537-3505.
See you in the park!
Click HERE to get more information on individual events or to download event registration forms.
We've all swept them, stomped them, sprayed them and swept them some more. The crickets are out by the millions right now and their sweet little cricket song isn't so sweet anymore.
The cricket invasion in Gothenburg isn't new. We've had these piles of crickets before. According to Darrel Giesenhagen from Reliable Pest Control Services, it's a cyclical thing. Cricket outbreaks, he said, are typically associated with a dry period followed by a fair amount of rain. (We've certainly had a "fair amount" of rain this year.) Rainy periods create increased vegetation, so crickets can grow very quickly. Darrel also said this year's weather has been such that there were multiple breeding periods for crickets, so there seems to be more.
And crickets are night creatures, he said. That's why you don't see quite as many moving around during the daylight hours. But holy smokes do we have gobs of them first thing in the morning! All up and down Lake Avenue and the businesses on the side streets, folks are out every workday morning sweeping critters to the curb or blowing them with a leaf blower.
Darrel says you can call his pest control service to spray the bugs. (He's a Chamber member!) That will surely mean you're sweeping dead ones instead of them jumping on your pants and shoes. Or you can wait it out. The weather will turn cooler at night soon and he said they'll be gone again for at least another year.
Did you know in the Far East and across many parts of Europe, it is considered very bad luck to kill a cricket, even by accident? Well I might as well have broken a thousand mirrors.
Crickets usually hatch in large numbers in August or early September, so apparently they're right on time. According to the Farmer's Almanac, early arrival of crickets means an early winter. I guess that means winter will appear right on time this year, whatever that is.
Just in case winter comes early, here are some more bits of folk wisdom I found:
20 Signs of A Hard Winter
You can look at it this way — I think we'd all rather sweep crickets than snow right now.
This weekend, our city will grow to more than three times the normal population. The hotels are full, the campgrounds are full and soon, Gothenburg will be full too.
The board of directors for the Livin Out Loud organization has worked tirelessly to prepare for this year's Christian music festival. These folks from all walks of life bring together their talents and determination to
Besides booking the bands, renting the stage with sound and lighting equipment, organizing the vendors, distributing promotion materials and rounding up around 150 volunteers, the group threw a venue change into the mix. This year, the festival will be at Lake Helen rather than its previous spot next to the Four-Plex. Lake Helen is a beautiful place and allows more space for the performers, the vendors and the audience.
Whether you are familiar with the bands and their music or not, consider taking a walk to Lake Helen on Saturday evening simply to see this amazing event for yourself. Community members come together to
It's a perfect opportunity to put our All-America City on display.
Most people want to know, like and trust those they do business with. Maybe you have heard how social media is a great way to make that happen. After all, posting to social media can bring out your business’ personality.
But some businesses have difficulty being themselves online or simply don’t have the time to dedicate to social media consistently. Luckily, social media isn’t the only way to put a more personable face on your business.
A Chamber membership can help businesses become more known, liked and trusted.
Help People Get to Know You
If you want people to do business with you, they must think about you. No matter what you sell or what service you provide, you won’t do any business if people don’t think about you when they’re in the market for what you offer.
Sure, there are moments of emotional purchasing fueled by driving by or walking past, but even in those circumstances of emotional purchases, the buyer needs to know what that business is selling to make an impulse buy.
Chamber membership helps businesses become more recognizable in a variety of ways:
Sometimes the community knows what you do but doesn’t know enough about you to trust you. In these cases, a chamber membership is invaluable. According to the Schapiro Study, “Chamber membership has consistent and powerful benefits for small business members — if consumers are aware that the small business is involved with its local chamber.”
In that study, they found that if respondents knew a small business was a member of its local chamber, the business saw a 49% increase in its consumer favorability rating (like), a 73% increase in consumer awareness (know), a 68% increase in its local reputation (trust), and an 80% increase in the likelihood that consumers will patronize the business in the future.
Chamber membership goes a long way to helping businesses develop a trustworthy reputation. Many people see chambers as business entities or similar to the Better Business Bureau. While neither is true, these individuals apply the same feelings of community membership and upstanding reputations to the chamber members as they would a good rating from the Better Business Bureau.
The chamber can also help people trust you when you choose to associate or sponsor a well-loved community/chamber event. For instance, when a business sponsors Beef, Wine & More and the participants have a great time eating and drinking and bidding on auction items, the reputation of the event spreads to the business as if it hosted the event itself. It improves the trust people have for you.
Become More Likable
Being a chamber member can also help you market the most trustworthy parts of your business. Here’s how we can help you amplify your message and become more likable.
Likability is probably one of the easiest parts of the “know, like and trust” formula for more sales but it is also the one most businesses feel awkward about. They often go about it through social media and their attempts to become more friendly come off as just being "salesy."
When that happens, it’s often because they haven’t attributed the same skills needed for an in-person conversation to social media. Just like in a face-to-face conversation, on social media you don’t want to:
The ease of becoming likable (or someone seeing you as likable, because of course you already are, right?) in person is that you can read your audience’s nonverbal queues. If you see them disengaging or uninterested, you can change the conversation back to something they’re interested in. You can tell if they’re enjoying themselves and adjust accordingly.
Getting more involved in the chamber can give you a lot of time to build on the likability factor. People must first know who you are to later be able to like you. Multiple chances to meet in events through the chamber can make networking easier and less awkward because you’re not playing to an unknown crowd. You learn a little bit more about them — and they about you — each time you meet.
Other ways the chamber helps members to improve the likability factor include:
If you want more business and are struggling with just how to do that, the issue may be that people don’t know you, don't trust you or don't know you well enough to like you.
Maybe you’ve been working on those things through social media, but connecting online can be difficult for some people. If you’re not getting the traction you’d like, consider how the chamber could help you become better known and trusted — and liked — in the community.
As another bonus, the chamber may be able to show you how to connect online as well. While social media may not currently be working for you, that doesn’t mean it won’t ever work. The chamber can help in many ways. The options might surprise you.
Plans are well underway for Gothenburg's 2019 Harvest Festival Sept. 19-22. We've got some new events and some old favorites that we hope everyone will get involved in. The theme, All-American Harvest Festival, pays tribute to the city's recent All-America City Award.
Of course we'll have the big parade on Saturday morning, Sept. 21. It's one of the favorite events of the celebration, usually bringing 75 or so entries and thousands of spectators. An honor bestowed every year is the naming of the parade's grand marshal. This position is usually decided through nominations that are narrowed down and selected by the Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce board of directors. But we need your help.
What is a grand marshal? It's an honored leader chosen for special recognition to lead a ceremony. In this case, it's an individual or group highlighted at the beginning of the Harvest Festival parade. The grand marshal usually garners some pre-parade publicity and gets a special ride arranged by the Chamber. That's the extent of the responsibilities unless the grand marshal wants to do more.
The grand marshal could be a city leader, a noted volunteer, a group of people who have gone above and beyond or a person or group who fits the theme. There really are not set parameters. It can be anyone.
Please help us select this year's grand marshal by making a nomination. It's easy and the person you nominate doesn't even have to know it was you who put them in the spotlight. Call the Chamber at 537-3505, click HERE to email the Chamber, send a note to 1001 Lake Ave. or stop in the office.
We want the grand marshal to be someone honored and respected by the community, so please submit your ideas. Nominations will be accepted until Aug. 10 and the 2019 Harvest Festival parade grand marshal will be announced before the end of August.
Thanks for you help and be sure to get out there and participate! A full schedule of events is coming soon!
A casual night out tasting Nebraska wines, beers and whiskey with delicious food and a fun program on the side. What's not to like?
The Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee will host its 15th annual Beef, Wine & More from 6-9 pm on Saturday, Aug. 10 at the NSG Conference Center. The event raises funds for an AFA scholarship that our local committee awards to a graduating senior planning to pursue a degree in an ag-related field. The committee has been giving this scholarship since 1984. Beef & Wine became a way to fund it 20 years later.
The 2019 event will be a little different than in years past, so you won't be able to use the excuse that you've "been there, done that."
Beef & Wine used to be a dress-up affair where you might have been expected to sniff and swirl your wine before gulping it down. Adding beer and whiskey to the tasting options has encouraged us to become a whole lot more laid back. Come as you are. We won't judge.
You're still going to get wine poured by Nebraska vendors, including one winery visiting Gothenburg for the first time. Niobrara Valley Vineyard from Nenzel joins 3 Brothers and Mac's Creek this year. Mac's Creek has also added a brewery to their lovely place north of Lexington, so they'll be bringing a couple of different beers to sample. Other breweries will be Pals from North Platte and Kinkaider from Broken Bow. And then there's the ever-popular Lazy RW Distillery folks with a new product you don't want to miss.
We're also serving Nebraska beef and pork again with lots of sides, but in a more casual "meat and mingle" style. It won't be a sit-down, banquet meal, but if you don't get full it will be your own fault.
Committee members are collecting a variety of auction prizes that our resident entertainer/auctioneer Wendell Brott will encourage you to buy. And we're bringing back the raffle number board, but this year there will only be 75 numbers and you get to choose the ones you want. Some numbers come with equivalent cash, others will cost you the equivalent dollar amount. Then you put your tickets in the bucket for the item you hope to win, including a hefty wad of cold hard cash!
There are a couple of new elements too. We're adding a wine cork pull and a dessert dash. You'll have to reserve your tickets to see what that belly laugh is all about.
Sponsorships are available right up until the event but if you want the benefit of publicity for your money, you'll want to commit to sponsoring by Aug. 2. Each sponsorship level gets tickets to the event — the more money you give the more tickets you get. Tickets will also be sold to the public without sponsorships for $30 each. Each event ticket gets you five wine, beer or whiskey samples, with an option to purchase more.
There's no pressure to play the raffle or buy an auction item (unless maybe Wendell has some blackmail material on you), so you can just come eat and drink and socialize. But the items are so good and the games are so much fun that we're sure you'll want to get involved. This is a great last blast before school starts, so bring your friends.
If you have questions or you want to reserve your tickets, don't hesitate to call the Chamber office at 537-3505.
Click HERE to download a sponsorship form.
Here we are again, Gothenburg friends, finding ourselves wanting to complain about a few slimy and bumpy spots on the dirt road home or a wet area around the drain in the basement laundry room that won't go away. Yes, our gardens are drenched. Yes, our crops seem to be a little behind the average for this time of year. And yes, your kids probably didn't get to play all of the summer league baseball they were scheduled for.
But take a quick look toward the east. And not too far east at that.
Some of our county neighbors in Cozad and Lexington will be pumping water for days and businesses have had to close, at least temporarily, because their buildings have so much water damage.
And then there's Kearney, Gibbon, Shelton and Wood River. Three days after the torrential downpour, water continues to rise in many of these cities. Folks have been washed out of their homes and their businesses, using boats to get around city streets. It will take weeks, even months, to recover ... if they recover at all. For some in Gibbon and Wood River, this is the second time in just a few short months they've watched as their livelihoods floated away.
In Gothenburg, we've thankfully been spared from the worst of it both times — in March and again this month. No doubt there have been some inconveniences here and some questionable moments, but we have so much to be grateful for.
If you have the time and resources, offer a helping hand to our neighbors in need. If not, kind words and prayers cost you nothing. Remember, there's always, always, always something to be grateful for.
What do you do when you achieve a goal you worked really hard for? You celebrate, right? The All-America City Award achieved by Gothenburg is a big deal, and not just for the team that went to Denver for the competition. It's a big deal for this entire community. So we're going to celebrate.
Some board members from Gothenburg Improvement Company — which sponsored the All-America City application, by the way — are planning a party for everyone in Gothenburg. Of course there will be free food at the YMCA from 5-7 pm of Thursday, July 11. What would a party be without food? And there will be fun stuff for the kids to do like jump until their hearts are content in a bounce house or climb through an obstacle course in the gym.
Most, if not all, of our delegation to Denver will be on hand to share their experiences. The video of our presentation will be playing in the Larry Gill Board Room, with delegates available to answer questions. And we'll have a couple of special guests. Our own Sen. Matt Williams, who represents District 36 in the Nebraska Legislature, will give some remarks, as will Lt. Gov. Mike Foley.
The YMCA is the perfect spot for this celebration since it was central to the All-America City Award presentation for the theme, "Creating Healthy Communities Through Inclusive Civic Engagement." The application and presentation also highlighted the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition and our city's food initiatives such as the Backpack Program, Lunch Buddies, Shares and the Senior Center meals. All of those projects are undeniably worth celebrating. But that's not all that makes our city All-American.
We have an outstanding hospital with top-notch providers, a school system that is used as a model throughout the state and two local banks that are premier when it comes to community involvement and support. We have three Fortune 500 companies located here as well as small business owners who believe in the future of Gothenburg.
There are Gothenburg graduates who have gone away and come back because the culture of our community makes them want to raise their families here. We have folks who landed here because of a job many years ago and have adopted Gothenburg as their forever home. There are beautiful houses, expanding businesses, lovely parks and a municipality that cares about them all.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. This All-America City Award is not just about three projects. It's not about the 22 people who went to Denver. It's not about a plaque or a banner or a sign. It's about every single person in this town who makes up a piece of the bigger puzzle we call Gothenburg. And it's about The Gothenburg Way.