On Tuesday, April 11, Perry’s Chamber of Commerce held their annual Chamber Banquet honoring those within the community. Three awards were presented during the evening’s ceremonies, followed by a preview of the Fireworks Pie Auction.

“Tonight is about slowing down,” Bob Wilson, Executive Director of the Perry Chamber told the crowd.

The annual banquet recognizes those in the Perry community who have made or continue to make a difference. Wilson said nominations are made throughout local businesses and the community, followed by several voting processes with the Chamber board.

Prior to the awards portion of the evening, Deacon Dan Leslie from the First Baptist Church led a prayer before dinner from Hy-Vee catering was served.

This year, awards were given out for the following categories: Business of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and Young Professional of the Year.

Oftentimes, recipients are informed of their honor prior to the awards ceremony. However, the recipient of the first award of the night had not anticipated the win.

“This award celebrates a business that best embodies the spirit of Chamber of Commerce in our community,” Wilson read to the crowd.

Wilson reminded the crowd that the recipient was unaware of the award.

“So for over 115 years, this business has been supporting the Perry community,” Wilson said. “The legacy is still present in our community today.”

The “Business of the Year” award was presented to General Manager, Alan Lenz of Wiese Industries.

Lenz said he was surprised to win, but realized it was Wiese Industries after hearing the number of years the business had been in the community.

With three years as a General Manager, Lenz has put in a total of thirty-three years at Wiese Industries.

The “Business of the Year” award will go in their front office, Lenz said.

“I think that’s amazing to have the genuine surprise,” Wilson said regarding the award.

After, Wilson presented the “Volunteer of the Year” Award to the Community Christmas Dinner volunteers.

“We do graciously thank everyone for nominating us,” Co-Founder of the Perry Christmas Dinner Deb Miller told the crowd upon accepting the award.

The annual event turns eleven this year and is a combined effort of multiple organizations,

Co-Founder of the Perry Christmas Dinner, Larry Meacham said.

Around forty to one-hundred people are involved in the event. From there, some of the same volunteers trickle into each dinner.

The dinner serves a multitude of individuals, ranging from those who are not able to house a full-family in their homes or those who are alone on the holiday’s.

Perry’s Elks Lodge houses the event and kitchen supplies are made available to those cooking the meals. Food is typically donated locally within the community.

Money donations from the event for those who wish to pay for their meal are later given to the Food Pantry.

The final award for the evening was given to Kyle and Mindy Baxter for “Young Professional of the Year.”

“We don’t deserve any awards,” Mindy Baxter said. “We just do what we do because we love what we do.”

It was unexpected and they are very grateful, Mindy Baxter mentioned.

“His Grandpa is what got us started in the business, he actually built his own residential jetter years ago and that’s how Kyle started helping him,” Mindy Baxter said.

Both were born and raised in the community, striving to grow a business once they started a family.

“Kyle decided he needed to be better and do something bigger,” Mindy Baxter said.

Both are now Co-Owners of the eleven-year-old AccuJet Sewer and Drain Cleaning business.

Following the awards ceremony, a preview of the pie auction took place.

Wilson announced a new goal of raising $15,000 for Fireworks Drive, following the wrap-up of the banquet.

Following the previous cupcake promotion, funds towards the Fireworks Drive has began to spill in.

In previous years, the Pie Auction was only held to the Chamber Banquet. Now, folks can listen to the pie auction radio broadcast via KDLS.

“It’s incredible, people just come out of their shells,” Wilson said after Tuesday night’s auction.

Recently, the board agreed on showing the crowd a glimpse of the previous Pie Auction tradition during the event.

“It adds a nice entertainment and gives awareness to the upcoming Fireworks Drive.”

The overall event was a success, Wilson said.

“I just like the networking and the conversation that goes on,” Wilson said. “I see a lot of value in that opposed to just talking to them. I hope relationships are made.”