Feb. 26, 2007

The Winsted Chamber of Commerce

By Jenni Sebora

Fostering the business community in Winsted while promoting the Winsted community and area is the primary function of the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce, established more than 50 years ago.

As there are approximately 90 members currently in the chamber, membership is open to any interested individual or business. And retail and business promotion is just one aspect of the chamber’s work.

Many of the events and activities the organization sponsors or participates in are aimed at “enhancing the lifestyle for people,” previous chamber president Mary Neff said. This shines through in the varied activities the volunteer organization sponsors throughout the year.

During the Winsted Winter Festival, Santa can be found at the Legion “taking orders” and distributing goody bags, courtesy of the chamber.

As part of the winter celebration, the chamber also sponsors horse-drawn wagon rides and annually invites the St. Paul model railroad group to come.

During the holiday season, chamber members also make their way to St. Mary’s Care Center to host a holiday social for the residents there.

Usually the Saturday before Easter, children can be seen hunting for dyed eggs at the annual Easter egg hunt at St. Mary’s Care Center hosted by the chamber.

Residents from St. Mary’s dye the eggs that were purchased by the chamber. Eggs with special markings that are found during this annual hunt can be turned in for quarters and all participants receive treats from the Easter bunny.

In mid-spring, the Women’s Expo takes place at the Blue Note. This year, the event is set for April 14.

Winsted chamber members receive discounted booth fees for the expo as a way to encourage membership in the Chamber, Neff explained.

“The expo promotes local businesses and all businesses that support the local residents,” Neff said.

Summer brings the Brat Buster celebration in conjunction with Winsted Summer Festival.

Chamber members serve brats and beverages and sponsor other activities as part of this celebration. Winsted ambassador candidates serve sweet treats; the McLeod County dairy princesses serve floats, and the Mid Minnesota Concert band provides musical entertainment.

There is something for everyone during this annual Bargains and Brats event.

Down by the lake’s beach area, kids search for hidden coins buried in sand that is hauled in and donated by Kubasch Excavating.

The chamber also promotes business appreciation events, sponsors political forums on election years and provides a welcome packet for new residents and businesses.

The street banner sales activity was sponsored by the chamber also. The banners provide advertising and recognition for businesses as well as beautifying the city, Neff noted.

Most recently, the chamber donated $1,000 to the bicycle trail project.

The chamber meets the third Thursday of the month at the noon hour. These meetings allow businesses opportunities to network with other businesses. Guest speakers, including business spotlights, are meeting activities as well.

Membership in the chamber provides members with a special notation in the business directory and a plaque showing the business is an active participating member of the community.

Participation in the chamber provides the business and individuals participating an opportunity to share and prosper in the growth of the community.

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