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The Chamber of Commerce Banquet drew officials, their staff and their spouses from top organizations to Central Avenue Grill Friday evening. The event reflected on past decades as part of the county's 60-year birthday celebration.
The annual affair traditionally kicks off ChamberFest weekend created to celebrate the business community. It attracts the masses to the downtown area for family fun including jolly jumpers and a large sand pile for the kids along with music, food and shopping for everyone.
“We always support the Chamber of Commerce because local business is a vital part of the community,” said Chairman and CEO Bill Enloe of Los Alamos National Bank, a major event sponsor. “In recent years with competition created from the Internet and big boxes, we’ve come to realize a greater satisfaction in supporting each other here locally.”
Los Alamos National Security, ZIA and Del Norte Credit Unions also sponsored this year’s event.
“In every community I’ve been in, Chamber of Commerce is the central focus of business,” LANS’ Executive Staff Director Jerry Ethridge said.
A healthy business climate contributes toward a vibrant community, he said, adding that LANS has a responsibility to help make that happen locally and this and other types of events it sponsors are reflective of that commitment.
“We join together with others of common interest to make our community successful,” Ehtridge said.
Valerie Martinez is the new market development manager at Del Norte Credit Union. She’s been introducing herself to businesses around town and said she is delighted by the warm response she has received.
Del Norte Credit Union has sponsored a table for many years and this year joined the other companies to sponsor the event.
“I’m on the board of directors of the Espanola Chamber so I knew when I came up here where I needed to go and the Los Alamos Chamber has been wonderful,” Martinez said.
Business leader Dave Fox is a longtime chamber member. He, his wife Anne, family and staff attended Friday’s banquet with its disco theme.
Fox was clearly relieved that he and other business owners were not required to boogie at the event.
TRK owner Roger Waterman and his wife Emily McGay of McGay Consulting LLC, are each former presidents of the local chamber.
“I think it’s vital to have a Chamber of Commerce that encourages a progressive business community – the networking alone is so important,” McGay said.
Waterman credited the local chamber with being responsible for many of the activities the community enjoys each summer.
“The chamber has evolved into not only serving the functions of a chamber but has become the business development center of our town,” he said.
UNM-LA Director of Student Affairs Pat Boyer attended the Chamber Banquet.
“We’re happy to support the chamber for all it does for the community,” Boyer said.
Det. Shari Mills is an avid photographer who shot the event for the Monitor.
“The police department is a chamber member through the county and we appreciate the wonderful activities the chamber provides for the families here,” she said.
Member Services Coordinator Katy Korkos worked on the banquet with Executive Director Kevin Holsapple, MainStreet Coordinator Jeremy Varela and other staff.
“I’m really happy the way this all turned out and I need to thank Jeremy Varela who really organizes all of our events,” she said. “I’m also grateful to our members for their dedication to the community and I’m looking forward to this being our best ever ChamberFest.”
Central Avenue was closed Friday evening to allow Russ Gordons’ Los Alamos Concert Series concert to perform on the street outside of Central Avenue Grill immediately following the banquet.
On Saturday, ChamberFest showcased members and their products and services to the public in the downtown area.
A ’70s, ’60s, ’50s and older vintage car show was part of ChamberFest as was dancing, jolly jumpers, a giant sand pile for kids, arts and crafts and other family friendly entertainment also took place.
Businesses utilize this opportunity to provide giveaways and games for attendees and the weekend’s events were expected to draw more than 2,000 consumers to the downtown area.