A new way to honor Chamber Award winners

As we started out 2020, the Prineville Crook County Chamber board and staff were all set with a strong group of nominees for our annual awards. We had chosen a theme to honor the 75th Anniversary of the Crooked River Roundup, had our food and beverage vendors working with us on a top notch menu and were even planning as a staff to have fun with our wardrobe this year and all dress up as rodeo queens. (Don’t be disappointed — that could still happen)

Then … the dreaded COVID reared its ugly head and promptly brought our event planning to a screeching halt. We originally postponed the banquet. We spent time brainstorming when and how we could hold the event. We tried to figure out how we could make it inexpensive to attend so that we didn’t have to charge our already struggling businesses to sponsor or purchase tickets to a banquet during a time that the economy was taking a hit.

We also knew that our banquet was a time we were able to support our local businesses. It is common practice that we always use Crook County Chamber members for banquet. It takes a caterer, a beverage supplier, an event planner, photographer, DJ and more to pull off the event. And with canceling the banquet altogether, we found ourselves disappointed we could not support our own. Beyond the financial support the banquet provides, we also knew we would not be able to publicly honor and highlight the winners of each award or the nominees

We improvised, put our heads together and came up with a way to support our members, and our winners. We used a Crook County film company to produce a high quality and heartwarming video that announced the amazing businesses and individuals that were recognized for their efforts in 2019. We contracted with a local company to produce our awards plaques, and we purchased gift cards to Prineville area restaurants as an extra gift to our winners that gifted them with a meal the banquet would have provided.

It didn’t look like what we originally planned, but perhaps better. Instead of doing as we have in the past and highlighting our winners for one night at a banquet in front of 200 people, we were able to show our entire community through a video — a video that will live on beyond a Saturday night in April, a video that shows the heart and spirit of those who go the extra mile in Prineville and help make our community an amazing place to live, work and play. It’s also a video we can share beyond this community, with friends, family and those who may have never heard of this amazing place we call home.

We have seen adjustments happen with other events as well. Graduation weekend greeted the community with an amazing parade of seniors through town, and posters of each graduate lining the streets. The Round Up parade got on horseback and made its way from the fairgrounds, weaving through several neighborhoods waving and smiling for our residents. The same with the Fourth of July parade. Although our usual events did not happen in the same way as normal, they happened. In a way, we are seeing our community do as we always have. Crook County is full of people who are resilient and determined to find a way. That way may be different, but we are getting things done and finding pride in the challenge to come up with new ways to continue some of our regular traditions. Carry on, Crook County!