It’s easy to see why the Skowhegan area is truly, “A Place to Watch”.
December brings a true change to the Skowhegan area with festive decorations, window displays and all the trimmings of the season. In downtown Skowhegan garland is hung on the flagpoles and the downtown tree is lit and ready for festive travellers.
There are many highlights to the area come December. Look for Holiday Stroll put on by Main Street Skowhegan in the first weekend of December. The lighted parade is 7:00pm on Friday, December 5, with all day activities in downtown Skowhegan on Saturday. The SACC office will be open for information that day. Also on December 6, is the Bloomfield Elementary School Craft Fair. On Sunday, December 7 in Madison look for Santaville in the Madison-Anson Information booth in front of Dillon’s Logging on the four corners in downtown Madison from 3:00 to 7:00pm.
The 22nd Annual Festival of Trees at Good Will-Hinckley begins December 6 and runs until December 13. For those that have never been, Prescott Hall is full of two dozen trees decorated by local businesses and organizations in the most unique ways possible. There is daily tree viewing from 9:00am to 4:00pm. The Winter Craft Fair is December 6 from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Also don’t miss the Down Home Dinner (featuring local ingredients) on December 10 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm with student performances to follow. FMI check out www.gwh.org or call 207−238−4280.
There are also many specials and sales, at the hundreds of retail locations in the Skowhegan area and many members info can be found on our page. As always you can contact us at the SACC office with any questions. Also don’t forget that Indian Restoration T-Shirts, Skowhegan Indian Wooden Stautes and Chamber Gift Certificates all make great gifts! They are all avaiable inside the SACC office right now!
The Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce invites you to discover and enjoy the delights of central Maine. The Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce is a vital part of our community, actively supporting the commercial, industrial and civic interest of the Town of Skowhegan and the surrounding communities. As an advocate for business, The Chamber helps members to grow and prosper through business exposure, marketing and networking opportunities. The Chamber serves as the voice for local industry, speaking up for business with the government leaders and providing services to promote local commerce. The Chamber takes an active role in the community as well, promoting events, planning activities and coordinating the talents of local business people with issues from economic development to tourism. Whether you’re here to visit or here to stay, the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be at your service.
The Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce shall promote the business, commercial, manufacturing, and civic interests of the greater Skowhegan Area, striving to make it a prosperous place in which to live.
The following is three articles that appeared in a special two-page spread section in the Morning Sentinel on Wednesday, Decemebr 10, 2014. All articles were written by the SACC.
State of the Chamber on the Brink of 75
What role will you play?
By: Executive Director Cory King
It has been a truly remarkable year for the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce. As I am rapidly approaching the completion of my eighth year as the Executive Director, I can’t help but think of where we are and how far we have come. Some of this may be very eye-opening for some of you, but it’s time to tell this story.
When I began this leg of my journey, the SACC had fallen on hard times. Revenues were dwindling, faith in the chamber was lacking, membership was dissolving and I was the fourth director in fourteen months. I didn’t get here at rock bottom, some hard working staff and board members weathered that storm, but I did get here when it had just begun to tick upward. With that momentum started, I came in to try and make the SACC as relevant and important as it had been in the heydays of the 1980s and 1990s. But in 2007, we were one generation past the best of times, and we had to change what we were doing to try and become what the communities needed. To do that, we had to cut some programs and events, downsize the staff hours and learn to do without most luxuries that most of the member businesses we represented probably didn’t know we did without. Slowly, and steadily interest began to rise in the chamber as businesses began to re-engage with what the SACC was doing. We instituted more regular updates by e-mail with the SACC News & Notes, expanded the Business After Hours networking series with more events and better attendance, and began connecting better with the business community using their feedback to guide us. I kept my first promise from my initial February 2007 interview in the Morning Sentinel when I said I would be bringing back Moonlight Madness and Log Days. The former I did in the first year, and the latter took a little more time as Log Days had disbanded. However, with the emergence of Bike Night as an established event, we created SummerFest in 2011. The Rotary Lobster Bake was already on the first Friday in August, along with the Chamber Golf tournament, and so we dropped Moonlight Madness in the night before, Bike Night the day after the Lobster Bake, and we asked Main Street Skowhegan to join in, and they did a car cruise in and brunch on Sunday. SummerFest became the first four-day event in Skowhegan since Log Days disbanded in 2001 (not counting the Skowhegan Fair). By 2012, the Run of River Committee collaborated and decided to move their June event to this period in August, and combining it with the SummerFest events, and the full week of RiverFest was born. Collaborations like those have helped re-establish the status of the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce, but also it has gained us a following and fellowship with many area businesses. Our member list is continuing to grow, our events are more popular than they have been in decades and we restored the treasured Skowhegan Indian. Most proudly though, the SACC (later this month) will contribute its final payment on the past due inherited debt that was here when I first took over. With that payment, which likely many of you never knew about, a long chapter in the story of this organization closes– and another one opens.
The Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce has many stories like the one I just shared. Each Executive Director has their own story of what this seat has been like, and having over three-quarters of a century, that is a lot of stories. Eventually, my days in this seat will be over, and someone else will carry the torch, but as the current steward of the organization, I feel it’s my duty to recognize when significant events are occurring– and this is one of them. What we have accomplished as an organization is outstanding, and I shared the story above, so that you would know exactly how remarkable this has been. The board, the committees and the members have powered this ship through rough seas and I was happy to steer it the best I could. I don’t share that story to be self-serving, because without the help of volunteers and board members, this never could have been accomplished. I share the story to celebrate them, and what they have accomplished and given back to their communities. However, it is time to move forward from this place to something greater and for that we need you.
Many of the business people reading this have been involved with the SACC in one way or another, as past committee members or perhaps on the Board. I’m asking for your help to begin this new chapter. I’m not sure who the leaders of this next chapter of SACC will be, but maybe you do– the new leaders of tomorrow. Right now, young professionals are being promoted into new levels of leadership as other employees begin to transition to retirement. We need those individuals to get involved. Studies show that there is a higher demand on the time of an employee than ever before in our history. Does that mean there is no time to volunteer? Does that mean there is no time to do what is right for the community? I refuse to believe that. People want to do what is good and right for those around them– we need help identifying these members. Everyone talks about the aging population, and how do Maine businesses keep the youth from moving away. The answer may be this simple: engage them. Trust them to lead and put them in situations where they can be a leading face for your company. People are tied to a community when they are involved with it, so encourage them to join us.
2015 will be the 75th anniversary of the SACC. It also begins a new era for our organization, under my leadership, as we will be investing more in the organization (now that we will have the means to do so). This will result in even more progress on what programs we can run, events that we can undertake, and ways we can share information with each other and the world. We will be drastically revamping our committee structure in the coming year, with the Indian Book Quick Action Team (QAT), and the H.O.G. Rally Organizers QAT being formed to conquer specific goals. We will also be re-instituting our Ambassador (member visitation) program. To make these successful we need those new leaders of tomorrow, the new volunteer.
Here’s the catch though, they might be willing to jump in to helping, but they may not know how. Here is where the veteran volunteer comes in. Could you give us a year, to get these new programs running? What about six months? Three months? Could you use your experience to help start these committees and mentor the new volunteers on what is expected from them?
If you are not able to play that role for the SACC perhaps you could play a lighter role. Some of you may feel that you have given your time, that your commitment to the community has been tendered, and although I understand that sentiment, I respectfully disagree. There is never a time to stop giving back to your community, and never a time to stop doing the right thing. What small thing will you do? Attend a Business After Hours and meet some friends. Attend the Awards Dinner to honor fellow citizens and business people. Speak up on behalf of the Chamber at town meeting, or defend us when false accusations are made. Ask a colleague to join the chamber as a member or ask them why they are not, and let us follow up. There are dozens of things you can do to engage more, and be a part of this rapidly growing success story, so what part will you play?
There is a lot of work to be done as we head into the 75th year of the Chamber, and beginning this new chapter will be difficult. It can also be incredibly rewarding. Wouldn’t it be nice, a year from now, to be reading a recap article celebrating the SACC’s 75th year knowing that you played a major part in making it happen? That’s what’s on my list to Santa, to have the kind of success this year that you’ll be proud to be a part of next year. Just think it over– and if you have any ideas, you know where to find me.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best to you and yours during this festive season.
Every year has successes, but few years compare to what 2014 has been for the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce. As the year is coming to a close, we get a chance to look back at all that has been accomplished, and it is simply amazing. Here is a list of just some of the accomplishments and highlights from the past year.
- The year opened very strong with the SACC Awards Dinner at T & B’s Celebration Center. A pair of businesses and a pair of individuals were honored for all that they have done for our communities. Franklin Savings Bank was honored as Large Business of the Year while Russakoff Jewelers earned Small Business of the Year distinction. Heather Davis, found some time between all of her activities to stop by and get honored as the Volunteer of the Year. And the Alton W. Whittemore Award, fittingly and with the overwhelming support of so many, went to Shirley Whittemore. Who will be honored this year? Submit your nominations to the SACC office today! The dinner is held annually around the end of February and the beginning of March.
- The 1st quarter also marked a triumphant return of the FAB Fair in February. Skowhegan Area High school was very gracious and accommodating, getting the FAB Fair back to the 2nd Saturday of February vacation, and the turnout showed that people appreciated that change. Over 60 booths and exhibitors were on hand for the hundreds of attendees. Midge’s Theater Arts Studio performed the Wizard of Oz in the cafeteria and many other entertaining and interactive displays were there too. The FAB Fair 2015 date should be released soon, contact the SACC office for an application.
- RiverFest 2014 continued its growth with many events, equaling or exceeding previous attendance and participation rates. The SACC is heavily involved in that event of course, and through their work with the organizing committee (comprised of members from Main Street Skowhegan, the Run of River Committee, Bloomfield’s Tavern, Skowhegan Parks & Rec., Move More Kids Committee and many more) 2014 became one for the ages. The Lions Club BBQ, RiverFest Pub Crawl, the Glow Paddle, Move More Kids & Bloomfield’s Beer Garden all grew in attendance, and the Rotary Lobster Bake and SACC Golf Tournament both fell in range of what they have accomplished in the past. Weather tried to spoil Moonlight Madness with rain, but that didn’t stop 500 people or so staying throughout the event to Zumba, watch the Bed Races and participate in all of the activities. Mark your calendars for RiverFest 2015 Tuesday August 4– Sunday August 9.
- Of course, for many people 2014 will be remembered for the Skowhegan Indian Restoration Project. The Skowhegan Indian iconic statue was erected in Skowhegan in 1969, after three years on construction. The town landmark was fully restored to original standards, led by restoration contractor Steve Dionne, who also included a few safety upgrades to ensure its longevity. Completing the full scope of the project took tremendous collaboration between the SACC, citizens of Skowhegan, Main Street Skowhegan, the Town of Skowhegan, Colby College Museum of Art and hundreds of individual donators, who either gave directly or through the purchase of fundraising items. There are literally too many people to mention, as the thanks span from the Sylvain family, who helped develop the concrete base, to the Skowhegan Hospitality Association who commissioned the art piece, and everyone in between. The beauty of the restoration, and hopefully the lasting lesson of the work, is that it it took the efforts, time and financial support of the entire community. Donations from around the country were made, and it shows clearly the impact that art can have in connecting so many and building bridges across the nation. The Skowhegan Indian is the icon that brought us all together, and is the reflection of a progressive and cooperative region.
- The new SACC website was launched this summer and can be found at www.skowheganareachamber.com The visit is worth it for the aerial photographs alone as A to Z Computing Services not only developed the site, but Matt Hunt took the pictures himself. We are still learning about everything the website can do to promote our members, so check in regularly for updated information, a calendar of events and new photos.
- The Haunted Hayrides had one of their largest years ever as over 1,000 riders came through in the two-night affair held at the Skowhegan State fairgrounds. From that, 5% of paid ticket sales were given to the Cassidy Charette Memorial Scholarship Fund in showing how the communities in the Skowhegan region can support our neighboring communities as well.
As it is happening it is difficult to see just how impactful a single year can be; however when you begin to list it out, 2014 was an incredible year for the Skowhegan region. There is so much more too! This list doesn’t include: the expanding Business After Hours series, the fact the office was displaced for two months with construction, the Skowhegan Indian statues, the 1st Celebration of the Arts and the numerous other regional successes that the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce has taken part of in a supporting role. The amount of work that a community can do when it comes together for the same purpose is overwhelming, and the entire region should celebrate in these successes. 2015 has a lot to live up to, and it will!
If 2014 will be remembered for anything it will be the completion of the Skowhegan Indian Restoration Project. This 10-year fundraising and restoration project was completed this past summer and the re-dedication took place as part of the 1st Celebration Of The Arts (1st COTA) on September 13, 2014. The Indian, is of course the 62-foot Indian sculpture made out of wood and steel and secured atop a 20 foot base that stands off High Street in Skowhegan, and has since 1969. The Indian was given to the Maine Indians for being ‘the first people to use these lands in peaceful ways’ which ties directly to the history of the area, the river and the three Native American tribes who settled here at one time or another. During the ceremony, there was discussion about a book that is yet to be written about the Skowhegan Indian. The book has yet to be written because the authors have yet to come forward, and the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce is looking for them. The author is you.
You see, in the process of fundraising and spreading the word about the Skowhegan Indian, many stories were shared. Routinely citizens and guests spoke of the first time they saw the Indian, or meeting their husband at the Homecoming bonfire near the Indian, or even what happened when they brought a guest to see it. Some claim to have climbed it, been inside it, shot arrows at it and in many ways it has been a focal point of the community and the backdrop to much of the history in the region. The Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce wants to collect these stories and publish them in one complete book for guests and citizens to have. The book has a working title of “What’s Your Indian Story?” and will be a collection of shared experiences about the Skowhegan Indian.
This book, in its greatest incarnation, should not be sterile and bogged down with facts, figures and measurements. This book should be vibrant and emotional. Like any good icon, the story isn’t technically about the piece; it is a story of our collective connection to the piece. In telling your Indian story, we want the voice of each author to ring through, so that whoever reads it will get a sense of the people in the Skowhegan area. Maybe this idea is too romantic for some, but we want it to come from the heart.
With that being said, some of the best storytellers don’t consider themselves writers. Some people think their vocabulary isn’t proper enough to be included in a book. This isn’t the case here. Everyone’s story is valid, and if it is interesting, and compelling, we will help proofread it to perfection so that your story is shared in the best way possible, but also maintains the character of the author.
Submissions for ‘What’s Your Indian Story’ are now being accepted until at least February 28. At that time, a committee of volunteer readers will go through the pieces and determine which ones give a full view of the people and tell the story of the Skowhegan Indian the best. If more pieces are needed another call will go out, but hopes are that the book would be bound and ready for distribution come Summer 2015.
Get your very own Skowhegan Indian!
The Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce a new fundraising partnership featuring the work of local whittler, Sharon Kimball. The artistry is amazing as Sharon has created three pieces of art for the Skowhegan-lover in your family. The three pieces are various-sized depictions of Bernard Langlais’ iconic masterwork, The Skowhegan Indian. Sharon has created three sized works to scale including a …17-inch, an 11-inch and a 4-inch ornament-sized Indian. The proceeds from the sales of these statues will go towards an evolving maintenance and stewardship account for the Indian to beautify the statue, the area around it and for continued maintenance through the years. Each piece is hand-whittled and unique to the owner of that piece. There is nothing like it around.
The Statues are available through the Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce (23 Commercial Street, in the downtown parking lot) Call or come by anytime to order yours.
Statues will be available for order at the Skowhegan Celebration of the Arts on September 13, 2014.
We have some on hand and if they need to be ordered the orders are delivered as recieved in a first come first served fashion . As they are hand whittled, there is no automatic production, but the wait is well worth it.
The 17-inch statue price $75
The 11-inch statue price $35
The 4-inch ornament price $10
Don’t miss your chance! To order call 474‑3621 or visit Cory at the Skowhegan Chamber in the municipal parking lot.