This year's Trout Days are slated to take place from Friday, May 16, to Sunday, May 18. While at the Preston Chamber of Commerce annual meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28, City Administrator Joe Hoffman spoke of the celebration and noted that many of the events planned for the annual gathering will be much the same as last year. Currently, the city is looking for volunteers to serve on the committee and to make decisions about the activities. People are being encouraged to volunteer again this year to make the event a success.

One board member expressed the desire for the entertainment throughout the days to be more continuous. Often, as events start in the morning, there is a lull between those events and events in the evening. Concern was expressed about families coming for the morning, leaving during the lull and choosing not to return for the evening activities.

Since the family events are such a big draw to Trout Days, the board suggested some additions to the schedule to fill in the afternoon lull. Ideas shared included a 5K run/walk for people to join in. Another thought was a talent show. Still another was a contest for how to cook trout served for Trout Days. Rubber duck races, an eating contest and a tug-of-war fight across the Root River were also brought up.

2013 Review

Sarah Wangen, as chairman of the Chamber noted that the organization has designed and adopted a new logo to help identify projects and events the chamber coordinates throughout the year. People have often asked what the chamber does. The logo will be seen on posters and advertisements around the city so people no longer need to ask.

The chamber also redesigned and updated its web page and added Facebook to create additional promotion for community events.

A strategic plan has been created listing the short-term and long-term goals of the chamber. Last year between 10 and 15 new members have been introduced into the chamber.

It was noted that the spin wheel for the Main Street activities during Trout Days was a huge hit. Many prizes were given away during that time. The Golf Tournament the day after Trout Days was a very successful fundraiser. The Chamber is currently looking for volunteers to help with this tournament and other Trout Days events.

During the summer, the three Family Fun Nights grew and attracted more and more people as the community became more aware of the activities. These nights will continue in 2014 and will be on the second Thursdays of June, July and August.

In September, "The Scarecrows Are Coming!" began as a new activity to be spread over the next four years in surprise locations. Each year the scarecrows will be dressed in themed costumes, changing each year.

A new beautification plan has been adopted for Preston. This plan will be coordinated with the Lions, 4-H and other youth groups as well as the chamber membership. "Preston Pride" will be recalled to name this initiative. On the last Saturday in April this year, a large group of volunteers will be put together to help clean up Preston.

With the coming of the new veterans cemetery to Preston, the chamber wants to create the most favorable opinion of the city to those who will come through to visit the cemetery. They hope to involve as many people as possible to assist in the beautification plan.

Short-term goals

Wangen also outlined some goals set to continue increasing the membership of the chamber. With this comes the hope to keep building and improving the membership benefits of the chamber.

Providing general business educational opportunities and developing new avenues to increase chamber revenue is also important. Currently the only revenue for the organization comes from memberships and the golf tournament fundraiser.

The chamber also presented a budget, which they hope to continually review through the year.

The chamber board also hopes to develop and maintain the website and Facebook in a timely manner.

The chamber desires the success of the "Preston Pride" beautification plan and the compilation of a comprehensive community event plan to continue to build a positive Preston image.

The event plan would be edited as much as needed each year in order to help chamber businesses and keep everyone as happy and interested in their events as best as the chamber can.

Long-term goals

Listed among its long-term goals, the chamber would like to develop a permanent office location with paid staffing.

With the veterans cemetery soon to be constructed, the board also noted it would like to work with the city of Preston to support and assist in developing a community center.

As travelers would come more often to this area to visit the cemetery, the chamber hopes to create a long-range marketing plan in conjunction with tourism and the EDA.

Events

This year there are a few alterations in the events.

The new "Preston Pride" event will take place on April 26.

Later on in the year, instead of a Holiday Expo, there will be a Fall Expo, being held in conjunction with the Pumpkin Fest on Oct. 25. Due to the gyms being unavailable last year during December, the chamber has scheduled an expo in October where both gyms will be available.

In November, the chamber will begin playing Christmas music and erecting the new chamber Christmas tree. The location for the tree has not yet been determined. Many people appreciated the Holiday Square music sponsored by Preston Foods last year. The chamber wants to continue that tradition.

Finally, on Christmas Day, the chamber desires to assist and support the Holiday Christmas Dinner, held at the Preston Servicemen's Club.

Chamber involvement

If any businesses want to apply for a sponsorship for an activity from the chamber, one must go to the chamber website to fill out a form prior to the board's regular meeting each month.

Those who wish to become involved and bring ideas before the chamber are welcome to join the meetings of open conversation the second Thursday of the month at 12:30 p.m. at the Branding Iron.