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Madison County Chamber of Commerce Bicentennial Dinner

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce Bicentennial Dinner was a sold out event Dec. 18. The night marked the actual 200th anniversary of Madison County, which was founded Dec. 18, 1818.

The dinner did not disappoint as the popular table sponsorship tradition was continued. Several chamber members sponsored a table, decorating it to the nines. Creative tables featured taco themes with tequila, carnival themes with popcorn and much more.

“Since last year was our first year doing the table decorations in this way, no one really knew what to expect,” Chamber President Tessa Rehkop said. “There was everything from custom log place settings, popcorn bags filled with carnival goodies, to bottles of Crown Royal.”

This year’s table winner and recipient of six free seats to next year’s dinner was Melvin Mills Roofing with its “New Year’s Clock” themed table. 

The Chamber gave out five other awards for the evening. The committee highlighted members and groups who it believed had stood out throughout the year.

“The chamber’s motto is ‘Making Madison County a great place to live, work and play,’ so we wanted to give out some awards to people and organizations in our community that we believe do a great job putting those words into practice,” Rehkop said. In addition to the ‘Live,’ ‘Work’ and ‘Play’ awards, we wanted to recognize ‘Superior Service’ to recognize community service and ‘Outstanding Chamber Member’ to recognize the member that is an attendance all-star.”

The “Making Madison County a Great Place to “Live” Award” went to Victoria Kemper of the Democrat News, “Work” went to Dr. Phillip Beyer of the Beyer Medical Group and “Play” went to the Fredericktown Azalea Festival Board. The “Outstanding Chamber Member Award” went to DeNae Gitonga and the “Superior Service Award” went to the Fredericktown (JROTC) Blackcat Battalion Booster Club.

Proceeds from the 50/50 drawing went toward the rebuilding of the Sitze’s Homestead in Marquand. Darrell Bell from the Pig BBQ won the prize and generously donated it back.

“It just goes to show what a great community of people we have that are so quick to help others in their time of need,” Rehkop said.  

History was a constant theme of the evening as board members read facts about the county’s past and members of Historic Madison County spent the evening dressed in period costumes playing roles of historical Madison County citizens.

Ruth Ann Skaggs came dressed as her father John Paul Skaggs an avid Madison County history buff and founding member of the Madison County Historical Society. She entertained some of the dinner attendees with her father’s classic magic tricks.

“He always had a joke to tell, a line of comment or an idea about how to do something better, or often an old photograph or curious item in his pocket to help start a conversation,” Skaggs said. “In addition to being a historian and an amateur geologist, John Paul took hundreds of photographs documenting people, buildings, structures and natural features in Madison County.”

Skaggs said her father worked hard to rescue, copy and preserve countless old photographs of the people, places and activities of the area.

Dr. Phillip Beyer came as Dr. Harry Barron from the early 1900s a physician who practiced medicine in Madison County for most of his life.

Skaggs said Barron worked in the mines before he began teaching school and later turned to medicine.

“He borrowed $1,100 to attend four years of medical school and then practiced in Mine La Motte for over 20 years before opening an office in Fredericktown,” Skaggs said. “Over the course of his medical career, Dr. Barron delivered over 2,600 babies in the area.”

Having historical characters walking around the event reminded those in attendance about how far the community has come.

Rehkop said the past year has been amazing and busy.

“The year has been amazing, because it was the bicentennial year,” Rehkop said. “We tried to have at least one special event every month. From our poster decorating contest with the schools to our concert series in June. It was also a big year for growth as the chamber reached 100 members and hosted seven ribbon cuttings.”

Looking ahead to 2019 Rehkop said the chamber is already planning its next Perk Before Work event Jan. 22, its first luncheon Feb. 7, and the continuing of annual events such as Freakytown and Small Business Saturday.

“We also really want to focus our efforts on improving and developing the downtown area to attract new businesses and shoppers,” Rehkop said. 

The chamber would like to thank all who helped make the event possible including Brewen Processing & Catering, Country Mart, Julie Henson, St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Madison Inn Lodge, Meadow Heights Church, United Methodist Church, Pense Bros. Drilling, all the table sponsors, board of directors and Historic Madison County. 

Madison County Chamber Board members (left to right) Ronnie Gibbs, Joy Starkey, Heather Dietiker, Vice President Allison Boyer, President Tessa Rehkop, Beth Simmons, Ginny Smith, Secretary Kim Long, Treasurer Ashley Bales and Craig Mills at the annual chamber dinner Dec. 18.

Madison County Chamber Board members (left to right) Ronnie Gibbs, Joy Starkey, Heather Dietiker, Vice President Allison Boyer, President Tessa Rehkop, Beth Simmons, Ginny Smith, Secretary Kim Long, Treasurer Ashley Bales and Craig Mills at the annual chamber dinner Dec. 18.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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