GRANGER - Student art shows, community award banquets and holiday light tours are all activities the Granger Chamber of Commerce has on its slate when 2005 rolls around.
Carl Hurlburt, Granger Chamber of Commerce president-elect, noted that the organization plans on putting together a similar slate of community activities for 2005 as it did in 2004. Although he admitted that he always sees room for improvement.
One of the most significant changes on the Chamber of Commerce schedule for 2005 is the time of year when the annual awards banquet and auction will be held. Hurlburt and Chamber President Mary Kresse noted that the Chamber decided to push their banquet up one month, from March to February. The reason for the schedule change is that last year the Chamber banquet fell within a couple of weeks of the Booster Club Auction. Kresse said with both organizations seeking donations from the community for their auctions, the Chamber decided not to push their fund-raiser quite has hard this year.
Both Hurlburt and Kresse feel that moving the banquet up to February will allow the chamber to more aggressively pursue auction donations in 2005.
Hurlburt, the owner of Granger Self Storage, said the Chamber is hoping to get more people involved with the banquet this year, getting more people out collecting donations.
Another event the Chamber will spearhead this coming spring is the student art show. Hurlburt said the show is put together with help by the Chamber, the local PTO chapter, members of the Granger Masonic Lodge, the City of Granger and the Granger School District.
The art show, which takes place in May, traditionally features artwork from Granger children who are in pre-school through high school.
"It's been really well received," Hulburt said the art show.
Hurlburt and Kresse explained that the show is something that was originally started in the community in the 1960s and slowly tapered off as the years passed. It wasn't until about three years ago that the Chamber breathed life back into the event.
In August, the Chamber's attention will turn to boiling hot pots of menudo, as they get ready for their second annual Menudo Cook-Off Competition in 2005. Hurlburt noted that this year, which marked the first time the event has been held in Granger, the Chamber had 10 menudo recipes to judge.
"We had a nice turnout," Hurlburt said.
He added that besides judging the pots of soup, the Chamber also sold the delicacy. Hurlburt, who is currently serving as the Chamber treasurer, said the group sold out of menudo during the event, noting they had six big pots of the soup when the day started.
In December, the Granger Chamber conjures up a bit of holiday spirit. They invite members of the community to hop aboard a school bus and tour the Christmas light displays throughout the area. Hurlburt said the bus then returns to the Lions building, where the bus passengers enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate while they judge all the displays, deciding who the first, second and third place honors will be given to. According to Hurlburt, the winners receive small cash awards for their efforts.
Also during the holiday season, Hurlburt and Kresse said the community, including the Chamber, comes together to create community Christmas baskets.
Hurlburt explained that the people throughout the community get involved collecting food donations, purchasing toys and gathering warm clothing for those who are less fortunate. He said the baskets are then available to anyone who feels they need the help during the holiday season.
Nearly all of the activities the Granger Chamber of Commerce takes on during the year are not solo projects. Instead, the organization bans together with other local service clubs.
"We need to work with the other organizations in the city," Kresse said.
Hurlburt said the Chamber even tries to push some of the other group's projects. Looking through their most recent newsletter there is information on an upcoming Lions Club event, a raffle being organized by the Granger Aquatic Center Pool Committee and information on an effort being made by the Granger Community Mobilization group.
Both Kresse and Hurlburt believe its important for the groups to ban together.