March 13, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry
For a community to be successful economically there must be support for the local businesses. In eastern Idaho, agriculture is a huge part of the area’s commerce. The Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce strives to honor the businesses and agriculture efforts of the community each year by hosting a banquet.
The Famer Merchant Community Banquet is comprised of a dinner, live auction, silent auction and awards. This banquet serves many purposes.
“It’s a chance for the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce to honor people who have achieved so much in our community,” said Christopher Mann, the chamber’s CEO and president. “The chamber is focused on promoting, educating, advocating on behalf of the business community here in Rexburg.”
This is the 80th annual banquet. It will be at Madison High School starting at 6 p.m. on March 14.
The theme is “Fields of Success.” Mann said they chose that theme because the chamber and businesses are achieving success. They used the word “fields” to acknowledge how important agriculture is to the community.
“We want people to realize what agriculture does in our area to build our economy,” said Mann.
Many businesses depend upon the prosperity of the farmers. Mann said the hard work of entrepreneurs should be noticed and recognized. The chamber awards figures in the community who have demonstrated dedication and influenced a positive impact.
This year, Bart Rigby will receive the Farmer of the Year Award. Kevin Stevens, the manager of Albertsons, will receive the Business Person of the Year Award. And Captain Randy Lewis, who recently retired from the Rexburg Police Department, will receive the Public Servant of the Year Award.
Other awards are given for educators of the year, medical professionals, conservation efforts and more. The chamber will give out 14 awards in total.
The chamber will award newly appointed Idaho Supreme Court Justice Gregory Moeller with the Life-Time Achievement.
There is a new award this year. The chamber added the Women in Business and Leadership Award, which will go to Sandy Genta.
“She’s been a great example to the women in this community of a successful woman,” Mann said. “We try to look over our awards and what we’re doing and make sure that we’re keeping up with a growing and vibrant community,” Mann explained.
He gave a shout out to BYU-Idaho for all the support the college’s students give to businesses. He also proclaimed appreciation for the University Catering Services, which will provide the dinner at the event.
The dinner will consist of prime rib, chicken, fresh asparagus, desserts and more. Mann promised the dinner alone would be worth attending the event.
The setup of the program this year has also undergone some changes.
“It doesn’t have to be a speaker from the start to the [end,]” Mann explained. “How do we give people a chance to interconnect, to meet and greet each other, share business, and make business contacts? That’s what we want them to do.”
This year there won’t be a main speaker. A few individuals will give brief remarks to give those in attendance more time to interact with one another.
Usually 400 to 500 people attend the banquet.
“It’s probably one of the biggest gatherings of the year away from the BYU campus,” Mann said.
It is important the event does well, not only for the business involved, but also because it is the number one fundraiser of the year for the chamber, Mann said.
“I just want the people of Rexburg to know that the chamber is working on behalf of them,” Mann concluded.