Other Opinion: Explaining the changes made to June Jubilee
On behalf of Wadena Chamber of Commerce, I'd like to thank the many, many people as well as area businesses who chose to support and participate in our 2019 June Jubilee. We were pleased to see so many in our community come out to enjoy the parade in addition to the hundreds of kids participating in Family Fun Day. So many of you sharing your enjoyment helps us know that all the time, money and effort put into these events means something to Wadena.
For those unaware, Wadena Chamber is a nonprofit organization. The entire purpose of events like June Jubilee (and much of what Wadena Chamber of Commerce does) is to bring us together to enjoy and celebrate as a community; to bring people in from out of town to visit, to spend money which supports our area businesses. If you would like these events to continue, if you want Wadena to thrive, I ask that you keep that in mind.
For the vocal minority who were upset about two changes made this year - namely the lack of fireworks and the entry fee for the parade - let's chat. In an effort to chip away at event expenses, we instituted an entry fee this year. While we are hardly the first to institute a parade entry fee, if one were to take the time to investigate around us, they would find our fees were cheaper than many in our surrounding area that also charge.
In an effort to keep things in perspective, I'd like to point out that those entry fees will not cover a single one of the area high school bands we budget for every year. Yes, we do pay each of those bands to come here to Wadena, to support their music programs and for our community to enjoy during the parade. The money "made" from the parade fees doesn't even cover what was spent on signage, and certainly not the thousands of dollars spent on weeks of advertising in two newspapers, three radio stations, and online leading up to June Jubilee. Realistically, we gave away significantly more in Chamber bucks than we would ever collect on parade entry fees to help encourage folks to spend money locally.
From a marketing perspective, $20 for a parade entry ($10 for Chamber Members, no fee for local fire/law enforcement/medical service vehicles) is an incredibly inexpensive way to get your business/organization in front of a friendly, captive audience of 2,000+ people in your community to help build awareness of an organization or advertise a business.
As for fireworks, they're expensive. It came down to spending $4,000 for 15 minutes of fireworks or cut Family Fun Day. We opted to continue encouraging kids to spend a day outdoors with a fishing derby, a state-sanctioned pedal tractor pull competition with trophies, feeding 200+ kids and giving away upwards of $2,000 in fishing and sports equipment as prizes for every registered participant - all for free to our community. I think we made the right call. Ideally next year we can line up a fireworks sponsor; please feel free to reach out and let us know if you'd like to help with that.
We are incredibly fortunate to have such a town with such supportive, generous sponsors who enable us to have events like June Jubilee. Wadena Chamber organizes, recruits volunteers, works at and pays for the remainder of our events, but all of those sponsors you see listed are how those events are able to exist.
Wildly inaccurate complaining will absolutely negatively affect our entire community if and when those sponsors choose to no longer support events - whether those are Chamber's or anyone else's. There is always an aversion to change and everyone is entitled to their opinion - I assure you, I've been made aware of many of them - but ill-informed complaining by those unwilling to have discussions, unable to see the larger picture or dead-set against working together to make positive change in our community helps no one and potentially hurts everyone.
I welcome anyone who would like to share their thoughts with me regarding our events or anything else to please do so. I'm pretty easy to get in touch with. And if you're someone who wants to join us to help make next year's June Jubilee even better, let us know - the more the merrier.
Wadena Chamber of Commerce