The theme Saturday was “The Art of Community” at the 96th Annual Meeting & Banquet for the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development. That theme was repeated throughout the evening, as when Taylor Calcara noted that proactive communities, like works of art, don’t just happen by accident.
“The people make all the difference and you people have made this community absolutely phenomenal,” said Calcara, the 2018 chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.
Awards were presented to the 2017 Business of the Year, Great Bend Children’s Clinic, and to the NextGen Leader of the Year, Jason Mayers.
Later in the evening, Mark Mingenback would take the stage to accept the 2017 Citizen of the Year award. During his remarks, Mingenback commented on the “wonderful generational change of leadership” taking place in Great Bend.
“It’s refreshing to see that those of us that are elders are willing to step aside, to mentor and help the new leaders step forward. That’s what’s going to make this community absolutely successful going forward. ... I can tell you from my travels around Kansas that that is not evident many places. So I want to commend the community for the accomplishments that shows,” Mingenback said.
“Now I have had an absolutely wonderful life here in Great Bend; I love Great Bend to the core and I feel like I’m a son of Great Bend and so many people have been involved in helping me develop into the business person that I was and also, most importantly, balancing business with family,” he said. Mingenback also thanked his wife Leslie for being by his side. “We figured on Valentine’s Day she’d been my Valentine 47 years.”
Also presented Saturday was a Legacy Award, acknowledging the 25th year of Kids Ag Day.
Jon Prescott was the emcee, Brad Shirer sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the Rev. Lennie Maxwell gave the invocation and dinner was by A & G Catering.
Entertainment was provided by the Prairie Winds Jazz Quartet, guitar duo Brent Buehler and Patrick McCluskey, and Miss Leavenworth County Annika Wooten, who created a painting as the attendees dined. An auction was held that evening to sell the painting, which was purchased by NextGeneration Leader Jason Mayers. The painting featured a cow as well as a windmill and sunflowers. Mayers said he would donate it to his friend Dr. Nels Lindberg to hang in his veterinary practice, Animal Medical Center. Lindberg, a previous winner of the chamber’s NextGeneration Leader award, gave the presentation for the 2017 winner.
There were also 26 works of art from 19 arts featured at the banquet. Last fall, area high school students were invited to submit works of art that illustrate the beauty and imagery of their community. The community champion was Sayra Solis, a student at Great Bend High School, who won $300.
Read more about the award winners at www.gbtribune.com.