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home : news : news
July 22, 2018

7/12/2018 12:57:00 PM
Byron's first ever Stars & Stripes Party well-attended

By Gretta Becay

The first ever Stars & Stripes Fest hosted by the Byron Area Chamber of Commerce was a smashing success.

Hundreds of people came to Valley View Park for food, a 5K race, games including volleyball, bean bags, bocce ball, rodeo golf, a giant jenga game and maybe most importantly, a portable water slide. Under the hot morning sun, the water slide was in constant use and a brief downpour about noon didn't slow down the kids who tromped up the stairs and slid down the wet plastic slide; they were wet anyway.

The park has a large shelter and other canopies were erected so parents could wait in the dry areas while kids splashed in the rain.

The very active Byron Chamber members decided to host the event this year.

"A vision that Lainey (Lainey Moen) brought with her when joining the chamber in her role as our director was expanding the community presence and involvement of the chamber through community events," said Chamber President Mickey Elias. "The Stars and Stripes is just one of those events. We also have the Kiddie Carnival at Brrr Fest now and are planning a Halloween event for the fall as well."

Elias also gave credit to other organizers and volunteers including, Director-at-large Jay Czeczok, Secretary Jarek Moen, Vice President Jameson Hanson, Treasurer Ben Boynton, and Membership Director Don Huston, who is also 2016 and 2017 Volunteer of the Year.

Lainey also thanked Mary Blair-Hoeft, city administrator, who helped the group coordinate the use of the park and Fire Chief Matt Grant for the fire trucks and volunteer fire fighters who provided tours of the truck and gear.

"Proceeds from the 5K are going toward the Veterans Memorial (which will be located in the small park near the roundabout flags) and proceeds from the event overall are also used to support the Chamber so we can continue to provide the businesses in town and the community with opportunities to connect, such as the Stars and Stripes event," Elias said.

Among the party-goers was young Connor Brandt who explained that he was "four and a quarter years old." His brother, Wesley, "is six and a quarter," Connor said earnestly and his mom, Carrie, gently corrected him, saying, "Wesley's six and a half."

Wesley hung out in the bounce house while Connor and his mom and dad, Mark, stayed under a canopy set up near the water slide while a brief downpour cooled the air.

The couple live in Rochester but came out for the festival. How'd they hear about it? "Social media," said Carrie. "A lot of our friends live in Byron."

In the large shelter at the park, Chamber members had set up the food, drinks, a face painting booth, and a giant Jenga game which got as high as 35 layers before toppling to the floor.

Mickey's two-year old daughter Cora, helped the adults set up the red, white and blue pieces of wood so the next game could start.

With a steady hand, Jennie Winsky took on all comers. "She's gotten as high as 48 layers," said her husband, Thomas.

Another couple who attended were Amber Ahlberg and Eric Ayen. They brought their three children who headed for the water slide while Ahlberg and Ayen played bean bag toss.

Brian and Jill Lynch and their daughters Maddy, 3, and Lilly, 5, enjoyed the festival and the couple said they were happy to join in a holiday activity.

"It's a great community," they said. They moved to Byron about a year and a half ago. Both teach in Rochester.

Elias said about 100 people ran the 5K race which began the day. Hanson who owns Anytime Fitness organized the race.

Moen also noted that the winner of the free one-year Byron Area Chamber of Commerce Membership went to Keith Conway with Rochester Inflatables.

"The mission of the Chamber is 'to connect and promote businesses serving Byron, provide networking and opportunities and assist our members in achieving continued prosperity in the community.' Our events are just another way to execute and deliver on our mission," Elias said.


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