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Madison County Chamber of Commerce May luncheon

Azalea Board Treasurer Jamie Sherrill (at podium) and J.C. Shetley spoke to the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, May 2 about the Azalea Festival.

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce met for its monthly meeting, May 2.

Azalea Board Treasurer Jamie Sherrill and J.C. Shetley updated the group on the Azalea Festival. 

Sherrill said she was born into the festival and as she grew up watching and helping her father (Shetley) work on the event it was only natural for her to become a board member. She said as soon as she graduated high school, she became an official member.

Shetley said in 57 years of the Azalea Festival the event has only been rained out once that he can remember. He said several years ago the entire park was under water just days before the event and the event still managed to pull through.

Sherrill said the event is a big undertaking and that many do not realize the amount of work that goes into planning. She said all the workers are volunteers and it is one of very few free events in the area with no entry fee to join in. 

Shetley said every year when they go to convention they try to add a new attraction that the town has not seen and this year is a trapeze artist. He said, though we are a small town and consider this a small festival, we are well known across the state.

"The Azalea Festival is one of the biggest events of the year in Fredericktown," Madison County Chamber President Tessa Rehkop said. "People come not just from our town but also from neighboring towns."

Rehkop said a lot of people come back to Fredericktown because they lived here at some point in their lives and want to return for this special weekend. She said all these visitors means more business for our restaurants and stores. 

In preparation for the festival, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce held a Team Up to Clean Up Day, April 27.

Rehkop said the clean up day was a way to spruce up the town before all the visitors come in.

"This is our second year holding the event and it doubled in the amount of volunteers we had, despite the rain," Rehkop said. "We added some new projects including planting the planters around town. I have to give a huge thank you to Ken Connelly who worked extremely hard planning the placement of the planters, locating and organizing the flowers and plants and maintaining them. He went above and beyond to make court square look great for the local and out-of-town traffic that drives through."

Rehkop said the Beautification Committee had some of the planters moved, making them more centrally located around the square. 

The chamber would like to thank all who participated by either donating time, money or supplies to the event including, Safe Harbor Hospice, Filtration System Products/TBM, The Moon Family, FHS Student Council, University of Missouri Extension, Madison Medical Center, Beautification Committee, Retired School Personnel, The Depot Cafe, City of Fredericktown, Gifford Lumber Company, Thal's Hardware and Ike's Greenhouses.

In other business the chamber is still collecting renewal fees and currently has 29 members outstanding.

"We encourage everyone to pay their dues because 100% of the money from these goes right back into the community," Rehkop said. "This is because our local chamber is made up completely of volunteers. Most chambers have a paid staff member but we're lucky to have so many people that are willing to donate their time."

Rehkop said dues money goes toward all the events put on throughout the year including, Team Up to Clean Up Day, Community Fireworks, Freakytown, Small Business Saturday and more.

The chamber is also beginning preparations for the Community Fireworks event July 4, at Rotary Park. To register for a booth visit www.madisoncountycc.com/fireworks

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce will hold its next Perk Before Work Event at 7:30 a.m, May 21 at Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy. The next luncheon will be at 11:30 a.m., June 6 with a location still to be determined.

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

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