By Mark Wicks, Charles City Community Development Director
How many of you out there feel like you blinked and summer was over already? I know my hand is up.
It seems like we were just kicking off the first Party in the Park of the season and getting ready for RAGBRAI. Then that fast RAGBRAI was here and gone … as apparently so is summer.
At least that is what the calendar, and the temperature, are saying.
I want to give a big shout-out to all of the committee members and volunteers who made our summer events possible. The general public really has no idea just how much time and effort these people put into the planning, organizing and implementing of events such as the Whitewater Weekend, BBQ Challenge, Party in the Park, Firecracker 5 races, Bill Riley Talent Show and the annual Fourth of July Celebration.
The same goes for RAGBRAI, which was a community-wide effort, as well as the recent Art-A-Fest and free Christian concert put on by other entities other than the Chamber and Community Revitalization. Most are one-day deals, but they take months of planning and a lot of helping hands to put on.
You know who else deserves a huge pat on the back? Our city officials and city departments. They do so many things for this community that are usually taken for granted, but let me tell you they put in a lot of extra work for RAGBRAI.
I point to the Dirk Uetz and the Street Department in particular, who did incredible work getting the community ready for RAGBRAI, even after a couple of messy storms. Then they and the RAGBRAI cleanup crew did an unbelievable job off clearing things up afterward to the point that by 10 a.m. the next day you never would’ve known RAGBRAI had been here. Kudos to them and the local RAGBRAI Executive Committee for a job well done.
It’s not just the big projects, either, that the city helps out with. When our volunteers who have been changing out the street banners on Main Street for many years retired this summer (thanks for all you did, Vetters and Stones!), Dirk and his Street Department were there to lend a hand.
The city has also been partnering with Community Revitalization to get the street light poles on Main painted and to replace the old and worn holiday street decorations on South Grand and Gilbert Street.
The Police Department provides extra security at our summer events, the Fire Department provides ice or helps fill a dunk tank. They don’t get paid extra for any of that. They do it in service to the community. And we thank them for it!
It’s funny how many people think I work for the city of Charles City. I do not. I am the paid director of two non-profit organizations in the Charles City Area Chamber of Commerce and our Main Street Iowa program, Community Revitalization. The city is a partner, but not the parent. And contrary to rumors, the city doesn’t make money on Party in the Park or RAGBRAI.
The local committees made up of volunteers from the community oversee those events and any net profit from them. Those profits are then put back into the community. The committee members don’t get to keep one cent when it is all said and done. Zip, Zero, Zilch.
Like I said, hats off to all of our volunteers!
Now that summer is over we do have some fall events in the works, some of which are coming up quite quickly.
• On Sunday, Sept. 24, there will be a brand new Community Revitalization event called the Home Art Tour. For $10 you can tour and see the private collections in five area homes. Charles City is known for its public art, but wait until you see some of the private stuff! Tickets are available now at the Community Development Office at 401 North Main.
• Witchfest is also fast approaching on Oct. 7. This retail promotion encourages participants to dress up as witches or warlocks and have a day of shopping fun in town. There will be goodie bag giveaways at 9 a.m. that morning at the Chamber Office until they are gone. Look for clues at each participating retailer as part of a scavenger hunt.
• Brewfest will take place on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Elks Lodge this year. Taste at least six different brews, enjoy some good German food and play games such as Hammerschlagen at this Community Revite event.
• Spookwalk returns on Oct. 26. Kids are invited to come down to the trail behind the library in their Halloween costume and bring their parents as they walk the decorated trail to different treat stations along the way. This is a free event open to all and put on by the Community Revitalization Promotion Committee. Rain date is Oct. 30.
And mark your calendars now for a special new event on Dec. 31, brought to you by Community Revitalization. A New Year’s Eve Bash will be held out at the new Youth Enrichment Center from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Plans are to bring in some special entertainment sure to please, so stay tuned!
Finally, it is my honor to announce the next three Chamber board of directors members following a membership-wide vote last month. Michael Brown from First Citizens Bank was re-elected after previously serving on the board in an appointed role to fill out an unexpired term. He will be joined as of Oct. 1 by new board electees Ryan Parker from Hy-Vee and Katherine McCutchen from Simply Essentials. They will be replacing Eric Miller and Michael Holdren, whose board terms are coming to a close.
Congratulations to our new members and thank you to Eric and Michael.