Whether I like it or not the day to say goodbye to the Chamber has finally come. Today is my last day, and it's very bittersweet. Little did I know how much this internship would impact me. I have so many amazing things to say about the Chamber, but I'll try and keep it short and sweet.
Working for the Chamber of Commerce has opened my eyes in more ways than one. I have met the best people and feel like I have a second family here in Excelsior that I can always turn to. On top of that, I have learned quite a few things through this position. First of all, I learned what a Chamber of Commerce actually is and what they all do...and in case you haven't noticed it's a lot more than you realize. I've learned what it takes and what goes into planning and executing a community event. I was able to experiment with different marketing tactics and test what worked and what didn't. But most of all, I learned some really great life skills that I will use forever.
These things just scratch the surface of what I learned during my time at the Chamber. While I cleared my desk off this morning I reminisced about all the good times, stressful times, and all of the funny times. I was feeling sad to leave, but somehow I feel like this isn't the end with my Chamber experience. I hope that this blog has brought a fun new perspective on the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce for all of my readers, and shown you what the Chamber experience is really like. We are a fun loving, hard working, crazy group of people that just love our community. Thank you for everything Chamber, you will be missed!
Growing up I seemed to always be in Excelsior. Whether I was having a beach day with some friends, eating the famous Frannies Chicken Salad from Maynards, or grabbing a tasty treat from Lick's, I found myself in Excelsior for one reason or another. Coming here as an "outsider" I knew that I loved Excelsior and all that it had to offer, but little did I know that I would fall even more in love with it a few years down the road.
Fast forward to when I started working at the Chamber of Commerce, I quickly learned just how small this community is. I was overwhelmed at first by all of the people I was meeting, but soon enough I seemed to know everyone in the community. It feels like forever ago, but during Art on the Lake some of the Chamber board members all went out to dinner at Maynards after a tough day of work. I remember sitting at the large table and just soaking in the moment. I looked around at the new family I had surrounding me and smiled. This was the moment that Excelsior stole a chunk of my heart because it had brought me to some of the most amazing people.
I continued to build relationships with more people in the community as the summer went on. Last week I was out of town on a family vacation, and I received a lot of love from little Excelsior when I came back. On Tuesday I was completely taken back by the sweet people of this community. As I walked down Water Street setting up for the Farmers' Market I had several vendors asking me where I was last week and saying they missed me. How sweet! That made me take a moment to reflect on my time here at the Chamber so far.
As on "outsider" of Excelsior you don't truly see the tight-knit community that this town has. I have been fortunate enough to experience it first hand while working at the Chamber. It's hard to put into words, but this community is a family. The retailers work together to better each other, businesses build one another up, and community members show their endless support by attending local events. But what shows people how tight-knit this community really is are the conversations between people. Conversations here aren't your typical small talk convos about the weather, they are heart felt conversations. The type of conversations where someone asks you how your parents are, how the kids are doing in sports, how your back is feeling, how your trip was, and much more. People truly care about one another here, and that is why Excelsior has stolen my heart.
It seems as if every summer day is going by faster and faster. It's hard to believe that the 4th of July has already passed and that we are now looking into September, but let's rewind back to the 4th of July for just a little bit...
I was very excited for the 4th to come and to see how everything played out. But before the big day could come I was given the responsibility of set-up on the 3rd. As I arrived to The Commons at 7:30AM I was feeling like a "big girl" with all of my important responsibilities that day. The Chamber had quite the agenda for the 3rd; from 4th of July set-up, to retail meetings, to the farmers' market. In order to ensure everything went off without a hitch the three of us (Laura, Jocelyn, and I) had to divide and conquer. By the time the day was done I took a moment to look at The Commons and see all that I had done - given the set-up wasn't rocket science by any means but I did it all by myself and that was something I was proud of!
6:00 AM on the 4th rolled around quickly and we were in action at The Commons. The day itself was actually not that complicated from an event aspect, so this might not be the juiciest of blogs. The weather of course is always a wild card and decided to surprise us with some early morning storms. I actually ran in the 5K, but as soon as I finished my race my dad (the Fire Chief of Excelsior) was warning me about the bad weather that was coming in quick and told me to get everyone to shelter. The Chamber team quickly informed everyone to take shelter and before we knew it, it was storming. I guess it added an element of excitement to the day, but we could've lived without it. The rest of the day went as planned.
If you were ever wondering about the Chamber intern perks I'm about to share the biggest one. The Chamber intern gets to give the signal for when the fireworks begin, and it's so exciting! This experience was especially special for me because I was able to do it alongside my dad. I was stationed in the command post during the National Anthem and was listening to it via radio. I had that radio in one hand, and my dad's radio in the other. I was so nervous to mess it up, my heart was racing as I waited for the end of the song to near. Soon enough Laura told me "now!" and I radioed over to the barge my famous words: "command post to barge, shoot the fireworks!" The short moment that we waited in silence to hear for the first big crack of the firework seemed like ages. I was locked eyes with my dad as we waited, both hoping the barge had heard my command. Thankfully we heard the boom of the firework and my heart could finally rest. That moment was one I will never forget about this internship, and one that I will forever brag about.
If you're familiar with Excelsior, you're familiar with Art on the Lake. Although I had been to this event before, I had no idea what was in store. In the midst of vendor confirmations and organizing final details I came to the realization that this event is one of the largest events put on in Excelsior. From a planning aspect, Art on the Lake takes a village to prepare for the event, and an army to actually make it happen.
About two weeks before the event we sat down to go through all of the final details. That moment is when I realized this event was much bigger than it seemed. As Laura and Jocelyn rolled through vendors, artists, layouts, and more I couldn't help but watch in awe. It was truly amazing how fast the two were going through each detail, and how they jumped from one thing to another without getting confused. The thing that amazed me most though is how the two didn't even have to finish a sentence for the other one to know exactly what they were going to say. Once you work with someone for so long and do an event so many times it becomes like a second language to you.
Art on the Lake approached quickly, and once it came there was no holding back. This is the type of event that you have to jump full force into, whether you know what you're doing or not. I for one didn't know what to do because this was my first event experience not related to weddings. But all of the sudden I was directing traffic, managing deliveries, and directing vendors to their booth spaces. It's hard to explain, but it really is one of those "learn as you go" type of experiences.
Everything seemed to be going off without a hitch, until Saturday came. Looking up at the sky that day it was clear there was severe weather ahead. At first it was just rain, and even though it wasn't the nicest of days there were still people coming and shopping at Art on the Lake. It was about noon that day when the sky turned black and our lightening detector was flashing those dreaded red lights. It all happened so quickly, but we unfortunately had to pause our event for an hour due to severe weather in the area. If you've ever wondered what bad weather looks like for events keep reading, I'll give you the not so glamorous look inside of events.
To ensure everyone was safe I, along with all of our event staff and volunteers, were running from booth to booth in the pouring rain. We would stop at a booth and let the vendor know the situation, help them put their art in safe places as well as lower their tents, and direct them to the safety shelter or shuttle to bring them back to their cars. After we completed the process at one booth we would move onto the next until all 156+ booths were notified of the situation. We then had to sit in our storm shelter and watch the weather unfold until we were finally given the green light to re-open our event. By that point everyone was soaking wet, I literally had puddles in my shoes. Despite the crummy weather, there were still community members out enjoying the art fair and we still made the most out of our situation.
Sunday on the other hand was incredibly beautiful and thankfully made up for Saturday! The atmosphere in The Commons that day was so fun. It truly is the perfect event for anyone because there's something that appeals to everyone. Whether you're a foodie, love live music, want to grab an adult beverage by the lake, or enjoy looking at the wide variety of art pieces, I'm sure you'll have the best time at Art on the Lake. If you have never been to Art on the Lake or are wondering what is so special about it, check out this short video I made! As always, one event ends and another is right around the corner...I hope to see everyone at the 4th of July!
Tuesday was our first farmers’ market of the season! Although I had been to the market before, I had never been on the work side of things. As I came into work that day I honestly had no idea what to expect, or how hectic things would truly be. The morning proceeded as any normal day in the Chamber office; Laura, the director, Jocelyn, the marketing director, and I each had our list of things to do and quickly got to work. Quick side note: when you work at the Chamber your task list is never ending! As you work to get the long list of to-do’s done, people come in the office with new tasks that need to be completed immediately. As a very task focused person it has been a little difficult for me to leave an unfinished task to work on another, but I’m adjusting to this fast pace environment quickly.
The afternoon hit before we knew it and it was time for load-in. We put on our neon orange safety vests and began to head out to Water Street, but not without a quick laugh. One thing I love about working with Laura is that she finds a way to turn any situation into a fun one. She had us take a picture to show how “official” we were and to make us all smile. We then walked to Water Street and put up barricades so people would know the street was closed for the market. Vendors arrived and we directed them all to their designated spot on the street and gave them some quick instructions on how to set-up. In the midst of directing vendors, we also had to run around and find the owners to some abandoned vehicles on the street. Once those vehicles were cleared all vendors were able to set-up with ease! Quickly we saw tents pop-up and things came together. All of the sudden there was a market and people were walking about enjoying the nice day and unique vendors.
The set-up process for the farmers’ market was a little chaotic, but it was organized chaos. The Chamber is one well-oiled machine and you can totally tell this just by the set-up of this large scale event. If you didn’t get the chance to stop by the market this week I highly recommend coming next week, and all of the weeks that follow! There are some really fun vendors, including homemade ice cream, and it's just overall a warm and inviting environment for anyone. I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend with friends and family, be on the lookout for my post next week where I’ll be taking you all to look on the inside of a local shop!
Hello! My name is Moriah Gerber and I will be taking on the role as the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce Intern this summer. I’m so excited to share this experience with all of you! Before I dive into the Chamber experience, I want to introduce myself a little.
I just finished my junior year at the University of Kansas where I study Marketing and Spanish. Although I love Lawrence, I will always be a Minnesota girl. I was born and raised in Chaska where I danced at River Valley Dance Academy and on the Chaska High School Dance Team. There was never a dull moment for me in high school because I kept myself very busy with all sorts of extra-curricular activities. While I lived in Chaska, I spent a large chunk of my time in Excelsior – it’s like a second home to me!
Growing up I quickly found a love and passion for events. I absolutely love putting together an experience for people where they can make some of their best memories. My end goal is to become a wedding planner, but I’m currently finding a bigger interest in community events. As you probably could have guessed, I’m bursting with excitement for this summer with the Chamber and all it has to offer!
Just to share a few fun facts about me, I absolutely love all things Disney! Friends is my favorite TV show, and Kenny Chesney is one of my favorite artists. I don’t think that there can ever be enough of the color pink, and family is the most important thing to me. I’m the youngest of four, but including spouses, kids, and fur-babies our family is pretty big! I love spending time with my friends, eating ice cream at Licks, and boating on the lake (as most Minnesotans do). I’m so looking forward to this summer and all the opportunities it holds, but I’m mostly eager to get to know all of you – the community!
During my time with the Chamber of Commerce I hope to bring a new perspective of the Chamber and all that it does. This blog is going to be a fun mix of city event information, interviews, and some “walk-alongs.” Stay tuned for my weekly blogs/vlogs to get the inside scoop of the Chamber!
Moriah Gerber is the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce Intern, bringing you on the inside to learn about the full Chamber experience.