The St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce presented "A Night at the Races" on Saturday evening as part of their annual dinner. Attendees gathered inside the Red Fern, which was transformed into a horse racetrack in conjunction with the event's theme.
Chamber board member Mark Jacob offered a "Looking Back" presentation about the history of the Chamber, complete with photos and newspaper archives. Chamber President Mark Rupprecht outlined the future of the organization during a brief "Looking Forward" presentation. Jacob also offered the invocation following by the singing of the national anthem by Chelsea Bloam.
Ashley O'Dell, Chamber outreach coordinator, acted as the evening's emcee and recognized two area businesses and one organization for commitment and service to the community and beyond. Apollo Theatre owners Allison and Darlene Lynch accepted the Community Achievement Award. The Business Achievement Award was presented to Steve Feldbauer from Abbott Energy Systems, a subsidiary of Abbott Furnace Company. Letters From Home was recognized as well, with organization volunteers Karen Mohney and Mary Lee Bankovich accepting the Community Spirit Award on behalf of the group.
All three awards were new to the Chamber's dinner agenda.
Following the dinner portion of the evening, attendees placed bets on six different horse races and participated in a silent auction, with proceeds of both activities benefitting the Chamber. A panel of six judges chose winners during the parade of hats, in which a large group of attendees showcased their prized bonnets. Awards were presented to Leah Whiteman for most ornate hat, Mary Gaul for most whimsical hat and Nikki Samick for largest hat.