Tomah Chamber & Visitors Center Newsletter August Newsletter 2019 - Page 12

August 24, 2019 What a great summer! Welcome to the halfway point of our Downtown Thursday Nights concert series! I can’t believe we’ve made it through our first three weeks! So many people have been asking me questions about this event, it’s conception and the planning that I thought it was easier to write this letter and share our story and our dream. Let’s begin with “I can be talked in to some crazy stuff ”. I be- lieve it was November of last year when we were approached to put together a six week concert series. The gentleman whom we’re working with had set up similar programs in other states, and wanted to bring their work to Wisconsin. At that time, I felt as though we already had enough work on our plates, but my staff member, Shay Jilek, with a wild spark in her eye, insisted that I consider it. I posed the discussion to an Executive Board member, Jeff Cram. Always seeing the “bigger picture”, Jeff ’s influence and those discussions led to dreams and the dreams led to us putting on a six week concert series. It all sounds so simple as I type out these few sentences. This has been anything but simple! K. Sterling & the 85Silver Band open at 4PM SuperTuesday takes the stage at 7PM Early bird Tickets $10 or $15 cash only day of event tickets can be purchased online at Tomahwisconsin.com or in person at: All American Do-It Center in Tomah, Am-Fam Insurance-Jeremy Haldeman Agency, Timberwood Bank, Tomah Cash Store & Vino Anjo Must be age 21 or older to attend this event Proudly brought to you by: Tomah Norwalk Tomah Nursing & Rehab Our first order of business was to define our purpose. Why would we put on this event? Our immediate motivation was to use this as an economic driver for our community. We wanted to be able to bring more attention and foot traffic to our downtown, because after all, a strong downtown is a key component to a healthy community. Our vision included uniting businesses and non-profits towards this common goal and to make this a true community effort. We felt that Tomah has put significant investment into forming the Downtown Master Plan, developing TID 8, and updating the streetlights (coming soon)! We felt if we built this event in downtown, many community groups could embrace it and find a way to grow through the event. We wanted to close down a city street in the downtown, so we immediately began scoping out locations. We assessed every block of the downtown corridor. Then we asked many of the City of Tomah’s department heads to sit with us and discuss the options and if the possibility of this event was even feasible. Each department embraced the concept and pledged to work with us to make the event possible. It was Tomah’s Police Chief, Mark Nicolson, who suggested we hold the event on the 800 block of Superior, right in front of the police station. At the time, we were surprised with the suggestion. The mere suggestion seemed like something that would take the event to the next level of extraordinary. Closing down Superior Avenue could make the event so noticeable that it could be bigger than we originally dreamt it could be, but closing Su- perior at this particular spot gave the event stability. Having the event in front of the police station would help us to mit- igate possible over-drinking (who is going to over drink in front of the police station?). This also meant we had access to adequate parking, event overflow space (the parking lot south of the police station) and power sources. Also, since we identified early on that the purpose of this event was to spur economic development, it made sense to give a nod to the largest economic investment in Tomah’s downtown: the 3rd Gen “Tee Pee Building” project. Our committee felt that their investment in turning a blighted property into a beau- tiful destination was an important part of our downtown’s story. Our goal is to expand and we hope that every business finds a way to embrace the event and find a way to showcase their business at it. Enter the Break Room and Chad Mad- son. When Chad heard about our event and the location, he had some good questions so came to us directly to ask them. He then thought of ways he could use the event to his advantage. Not only did he decide to sponsor the event and sell food at it, but also to use it to drive more business to his restaurant. I applaud you, Chad! Thank you for seeing our vision and working with us to embrace it! We knew we needed food at the event and began to ap- proach our local restaurants to give them all the first op- portunity to sell food. Not all of our local food vendors had the equipment or resources to make it possible, so we began reaching out to some food trucks in order to supply the eatery demands we anticipated. The mix of local and outside options has been well received by attendees! Despite our best laid out plans, this event hasn’t gone off without certain hitches. We learned in the first two weeks that the bounce houses were understaffed. While our contract with the company did state they would be staffed, it wasn’t to a level that could keep up with the demand. We have mitigated that by hiring a team to help monitor their usage and keep up with the excitement of all the kiddos. We also ran into some issues with having enough electric- ity. Chris Dawley quickly became our “Knight in Shining Armor” on several occasions. He enlisted the help of Ryan Storkel who saved the day several times! When I say that this event is truly the creation of the Tomah community, I am referring to these guys and so many others who stepped up when needed to make things happen!