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Chamber event plays to receptive crowd

West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Barton gave glowing marks to the group's annual big fund-raising event held last Friday night at the Fargo Holiday Inn, based off the theme "A Night in Las Vegas."

The gathering was indeed dazzling, as evidenced by the record breaking number of people in attendance - 225 - and the fact that the Chamber is approaching its goal of 400 members, with the current roster sitting at 393.

The evening was coordinated by the West Fargo Ambassador group, with Larry Olson of Talent Productions serving as master of ceremonies.

"I think for one thing it created an awareness of our organization, and that we are growing," Barton said. "There was that excitement, and I think the great part is that members are talking about that growth and that there is success to share."

Barton added that she and her staff were greeted Monday by emails and calls from those attending who commented on how wonderful the food and entertainment was, and already wondering what they would come up with for next year to top it. "All in all, it was a very successful event. We wanted to get the networking across, and the evening promoted basically a good portion of our members who were mentioned somewhere. On that note, we want to say thank you to everyone who supported the event."

Among the evening highlights were the presentation of a special surprise award to Lynn Goerger, who is retiring from longtime duties as president at West Fargo's Alerus Financial location and from years as a dedicated, active member of the West Fargo Chamber; and the announcement of the winner in the second annual diamond give-away promotion, Sara Hockhalter member of the Chamber Ambassador Committee, employed by Keller Williams Roer Realty.

The evening featured a highly successful silent auction with 105 different items to choose from; musical entertainment in the form of an Elton John Tribute, a one-man show featuring Doug Moderow, a Casselton farmer who has been entertaining audiences since 1985; and the concluding act of the evening, comedian hypnotist Blaze Driscoll, a professional entertainer for over 20 years, who cast his trance on several willing volunteers, making them believe they were celebrities, had won a sports car or thought they were on vacation. In the West Fargo Chamber's case, Elvis ultimately showed up in the audience before he left the building, along with Jessica Simpson of the Dukes of Hazzard fame, much to the hilarious delight of the audience.

Barton said the event wouldn't have been possible without the support of the many generous sponsors, including A Cutting Edge, who supplied the diamond for the drawing at a fraction of the cost; and Princess House products for supplying the wine glasses the gems were previewed in. "I also want to extend a special thank you to those businesses who sponsored and attended the event and donated to the silent auction."

Barton also commended the tireless efforts of the Chamber Ambassador Committee who played a key role as well as fellow Chamber staff members, Teresa Blotsky, membership sales coordinator, and John Caron, communications director. "They all really deserve some extra recognition, putting in many, many hours to contribute to the night's success."

Inquiries about Chamber activity can be made by calling their office at 282-4444. More information is available at their Web site