By Jane Torres
What a difference a year makes! As the Chamber of Commerce looks back at last year we can happily say that, despite a little wobble at the beginning of 2012 due to a lack of directorship, by April we had a new leader who hit the ground running and we haven’t stopped since.
From the Southern Aroostook Trade Show in April to Midnight Madness, Potato Feast Days, The Riverfront Harvest Festival, the Light Parade and many small events in-between we have been busy promoting the greater Houlton area with enthusiasm. Our successes have been many and failures few and controlling the weather is something we haven’t quite figured out yet!
The Chamber of Commerce’s reach extends as far south as Sherman, to Littleton, Ludlow, Monticello, Smyrna, Hodgdon, Amity and many towns and townships in-between. We are happy to promote this area for its “quality of place.” Think about this statement because it is the buzzword for this community. This is why we live and work here despite the hardships, despite the extreme weather, the bad economy, the lack of amenities. Neighbors help neighbors and watch out for each other always. We enjoy the outdoors and play outside whether it is 90 degrees or 20 below.
Life here has a slower pace and friends and families tend to look forward to the events that the Chamber sponsors mostly because getting out and having the opportunity to connect with the folks we haven’t seen in a while is fun! Living in a place where people who have moved “away” will come back and bring their families for the Fourth of July or Potato Feast Days is an honor that is not lost on us here at the Chamber of Commerce.
Mostly we are proud that family businesses that have been serving the community here for 60-plus years are still open and persevering. Business owners hang on and attempt to stay in business despite the fact that online shopping and traveling to Bangor to shop has become a common thing. So, the Chamber is on a mission to promote “Shop Local” and are hoping the, support your neighbor, theme will keep as many dollars in our community as possible.
With that in mind and with a director and Board devoted to promoting the greater Houlton area, we are happy to be taking on a two new events in 2013. In May the Meduxnekeag Canoe Race will be held on Saturday the 4th. This is an event that has been going on since the Ricker College days but was in danger of being cancelled and we just didn’t feel that we could let that happen. Peter Blood and his team will still be a major part of the race and the festivities to follow but the Chamber will make sure all the preparations are in place for the big race day.
Our second new event is still in the very early planning stages and, as usual, we will pray for beautiful weather and steady winds. The First Wings and Wheels Fly-in/Drive-in will be held on June 8 at the Houlton International Airport. Now admit it … when was the last time you visited the airport if ever? Our town runs this wonderful place and it is a mystery to many of us so stay tuned and your local Chamber of Commerce will have more information as the months progress.
Meanwhile, suggestions are always welcome and new events are always a possibility so feel free to stop by the big yellow house on Main St. right next to the library. Our door is always open to this community.