Chamber Gala Returns After Missing 2020

By MARK EVANS

STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD

After being a victim of COVID-19 in 2020, the annual Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce Gala returns on Friday, April 23.

The 97th annual gala will be at the  Dubourg Center, with doors opening at 6 p.m. and dinner served at 7 p.m. The awards presentation will be at 8 p.m.

Tickets remain on sale through this Friday.

Last year the event had to be canceled due to the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic.

This year both 2020 and 2021 honors will be given out for Small Business of the Year Award, Community Service Award, Lifetime Achievement Award. There will be one Presidential Award.

The current president selects the Presidential Award, for “anyone who has gone above and beyond for the chamber or the community in the past year,” in the words of executive director Dena Kreitler. Jason Blum is the current president.

“We normally sell out at 250 tickets. This year we only offered 175 tickets. So we were able to space out our tables a lot farther. We were able to offer a table of six or a table of eight for businesses,” Kreitler said.

“Of course, we can’t mandate that you wear a mask, but we are highly encouraging that you wear one.

“That’s the other thing we’re doing. Plus, we’re making sure precautions are in place when we go through the dinner line to plate our food and stuff like that.”

No video montage will be shown, as in past years. Kreitler explained that these are normally made with the help of local high school students. The pandemic, however, kept this from happening.

“We weren’t able to get up to the school district an interact with the kids like we normally get to,” she said.

“Everything else is pretty much the same, except we will be honoring 2020 award winners and 2021 award winners.”

Kreitler said the response has been encouraging for resuming the gala this year.

“We’ve had about 125 tickets sold,” Kreitler said last Wednesday evening. “I’ve had several businesses contact me. I feel like we’ll be close to that 175, if not right on the money.”

She agreed that it will feel good to see the business community move back into the normal flow of things after a rocky 2020. Until now, though, there has been some hesitancy about attending big events.

“I feel like the community is still kind of holding back on attending some of these bigger events,” Kreitler said. She wants to assure the public, though, tat all precautions are being taken.

“We are working with the health department and the hospital to make sure we have everything in place and they’re excited for us to host the gala this year, just so we can get back to some sort of normalcy,” she said. “In our community now, not all of us have been vaccinated, but a very large part has been vaccinated. I think that’s kind of encouraging.”

To reserve tickets, call 573-883-3686 or email [email protected]