By Justin Aufdermauer
The anticipation that surrounds the annual Chamber Banquet is a little like Christmas. It’s exciting, there is a lot of work to do, and some of the details (or shall we just call them surprises) aren’t worked out until the last minute.
And then, just like Christmas morning, the moment arrives and it is nothing short of magical. Thank you to everyone who chose to spend their evening with us celebrating the businesses and people of Tillamook County that make this a great place to live and work. It was a wonderful evening to enjoy each others company, eat some delicious food, and reflect on how far Tillamook has come in a single year.
With a total of 22 nominees and more than 350 guests, it was one of our most successful awards banquet to date. And as I said at the banquet, I was very relieved that I wasn’t the one who had to decide a winner for each of the four awards categories, because each nominee has enhanced Tillamook in their own way.
Congratulations to Yo Time Frozen Yogurt for taking home the Small Business of the Year Award. This was Yo Time’s second year in a row to receive this nomination, and I think the reasons they walked away with the award speak for themselves. They have created a fun and welcoming space that never ceases to bring people downtown despite the ongoing construction. They’re open late for that special hang-out spot after a local sports game, and they are always eager to partner with their fellow business owners for fun, family-friendly events.
Werner’s Gourmet Meat Snacks snagged the Business of the Year Award for their continued dedication to Tillamook. Werner’s truly is a poster child for the old adage that with a dream and hard work you can accomplish anything. What started 23 years ago as a one-person operation in a garage has grown to a successful endeavor that employs more than 100 people and ships products all over the United States. Yet the Werners have always stayed loyal to their community and values by supporting local organizations, non profits, and offering free shipping to all Veterans.
The category of Development Project of the Year went to De Garde Brewery. You can’t miss the impact they’ve made on Tillamook County – particularly downtown Tillamook with their extensive remodel of the former Napa building. We can be proud to know that people from all over the world will be traveling to our downtown thanks to De Garde’s wildly-popular sour beers, and the challenge has been raised for the rest of downtown to open their doors and be an active part of this growing audience.
And finally, with eight nominees in the category of Citizen of the Year, the honor went to Sue Cudd. Sue cannot be described in a single word. She’s a scientist; a mentor; a community volunteer; and a business owner. Many of your probably know Sue in one of her many roles, be it the owner of WHiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery or a dedicated Rotarian advocating and fundraising for impoverished communities in Guatemala. Her work with the AFS Intercultural Exchange program has helped connect our high schoolers with hundreds of different countries and cultures, leaving a lasting impact on Tillamook County as these young adults have grown up learning to respect and appreciate other cultures.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank our 16 local restaurants who catered the entire event, and Chef Nelia Seratista of Pacific Restaurant for being the coordinator. A few years ago we had this idea to bring in as many restaurants as we could instead of one single caterer, and it has helped make the Chamber Banquet a really unique event with amazing food.
We hope to see everyone again next year, and thank you for continuing to support the Chamber of Commerce.