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Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce honors its champions
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Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce honors its champions

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The Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce honored some of its greatest champions during its annual dinner and awards night at the Baraboo Arts Banquet & Convention Center.

Executive Director Darren Hornby said those highlighted have been great contributors for the chamber by being successful within the community. He shared accomplishments of 2019 and plans for 2020 with the crowd of about 270 people Thursday night.

“It was a great opportunity for all of the members to come together and hear about the accomplishments for 2019,” Hornby said. “It was a great evening of food, drink, camaraderie; as well as education.”

There were five awards categories for the event. Hornby said nominations are compiled by members of the board who serve on the event committee and narrowed down to the top four individuals or businesses in each category. Once that happens, chamber members vote for one of each category.

Business of the Year, which highlights a business within the chamber that promotes the community, went to downtown Coffee Bean Connection, known for donating toward community causes. The Tourism Award went to Devil’s Lake State Park, which attracts visitors from across the country. In the Rising Star category, which recognizes a business open for a year or less that supports the chamber and attracts community visitors, Balanced Rock Winery won. Baraboo Young Professionals took home the Community Service Award.

The President’s Award honors an individual who dedicates a number of hours in helping the chamber, Hornby said, from attending all of the events to promoting the entity throughout the year. It was given to Raegen Trimmer, a real estate agent with RE/MAX, by the chamber board president Nicole Marklein during the ceremony.

“We are incredibly lucky to have her,” Marklein said during the introduction. “She has also been a catalyst for the important and much needed conversations and actions surrounding inclusivity in our chamber and our business community.”

Trimmer credited the residents of Baraboo willing to take action as “what makes this town actually great,” and said she was “honored” to serve on chamber committees alongside others intent on bolstering the business community.

Coffee Bean Connection owners Steve Ramsey and Rich Manthe expressed surprise at their success, given that they opened the business 13 years ago because Manthe had “lost his job and needed something to do,” Ramsey said.

“We never would have thought 20 years ago when we met that we’d be here today,” Manthe said.

The business has grown every year, Ramsey said.

“It’s been our pleasure to have a group or an area where everybody feels welcome,” he said.

In 2019, Hornby said the “Discover Wisconsin” television show episode titled “Baraboo—Adventure Awaits” was seen by more than 600,000 viewers with three airings since April and has drawn attention to the community. Another success has been the new logo, which Hornby said is now familiar to Baraboo, and the three facets of its implementation: marketing, signage and the website. Planners are in the final stages of all three, Hornby added.

For 2020, the biggest events will be the annual Big Top Parade in July, followed by an inaugural Oktoberfest celebration in September. They will match in scope for planning, which means the chamber will be busy this year, Hornby said. The chamber also has tentative plans if it is awarded a Joint Effort Marketing grant from the state Department of Tourism. If they are granted the funds, staff could expand promotional efforts to draw in more tourism to the city.

Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget or contact her at 608-745-3513.

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