Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
It is going to be a big day in Ottawa this weekend…downtown should be bustling!! Our annual Flea, Junk, Trunk & Craft show is tomorrow (Saturday) and we have over 60 vendor spots filled and committed to venture to town to sell their wares…you need to plan on coming to Legacy Square to see all the activity. After you check out the “specialty” sellers…venture into the downtown and wander through the stores. This weekend is always a good excuse to see what all is available in the many unique stores and shops we have on Main Street. 
 
AdventHealth NASCAR in Ottawa:
 
Last Friday afternoon, the AdventHealth NASCAR race car was in Ottawa and at the hospital for all to get a close inspection (pictures here). I was so impressed with driver Ross Chastain…he took special care to greet the kids and answer their questions. He is truly a genuine and kind person. Here is a picture of Ryan Henningsen and Dallas Purkeypile…Dallas is wearing a jersey like the one Ross wears when driving in the race. 
 
On Sunday, Cherry and I had the opportunity to attend the AdventHealth 400 NASCAR Race at the Kansas Speedway…what a fabulous experience. I am not a car guy or a race fan…but I was mesmerized!! It probably had something to do with having a car and driver for which to cheer…but I was as into it as I would have been an NFL Chiefs game. By the way, Ross finished 7th out of 36 and did lead for a period of time during the race. We had the full NASCAR experience…before the race we were able to go inside the truck which travels with the car and driver and has all the tools and spare parts for the car. We went to the garage as the team put the finishing touches on the car before the race. During the race, we went down to the track to feel the cars driving by…incredible speed. The noise and the velocity make your whole body vibrate. It was my first time ever going to a speedway…it was not on my bucket list, but I would definitely go again! And as I said at the beginning…Ross is such a stand-up guy! He’s a great individual to represent AdventHealth and our local hospital!
 
Chautauqua Festival:
 
Tim VanLeiden and Tiffany Evans and their committee work very hard to produce our annual summer fireworks display on the 4th of July. This year has come with even more challenges…COVID has caused fireworks to be in short supply. Most are made in China…so it is not only the manufacturing, but the shipping which has caused consternation. But…having said all this, the committee has managed to pull together all the fireworks needed to create a display as magnificent as last year’s. There is a caveat (isn’t there always!)…the cost is much higher. This group fundraises year-round to raise the dollars needed to purchase the pyrotechnics…last year the cost of the show was $5,700.00. This year the funds needed to purchase the same amount of fireworks is over $7,000.00! This is the letter the committee sent to all Chamber members this week asking for generous donations. They are also raffling a gun (picture here) to raise funds…tickets are $5.00 apiece or 5 tickets for $20.00. If you would like to support this summer’s display with either a donation or buying a raffle ticket, we can help make that happen at the Chamber…785.242.1000 or stop by and we’ll get you all set!
 
Father/Daughter and Rotary:
 
I was particularly proud this week when my daughter Jessica was inducted into the local Rotary Club (pictures here)…I’m sure there are other father/daughter pairs in the same club, but for sure it is not common! All our local civic clubs perform great services for Ottawa and the world. Rotary’s 2 big worldwide missions are clean safe drinking water for all third world countries and eradicating polio worldwide. Polio is funny…it will be completely gone and then pop up in some random place like a “lone wolf”. Still…compared to my childhood it is not something which we worry about in the United States much. As a boy, I watched my neighbor die of polio…he was a big strong Swede that worked sunup to sundown. After he contracted the disease, it completely debilitated him. He shriveled to a mere shadow of his previous self and eventually passed leaving 3 children. It was gruesome. One week at Rotary we learned there are still 5 individuals in the US still in iron lungs from having the disease back in the 50s…almost hard to believe.  
 
Father/Son and Royals:
 
I was also happy to have a father/son day this week as Todd and I sojourned to a Royals game on Thursday afternoon (picture here)…Royals lost – but it was still a good day. Cherry and I both have so appreciated seeing all our children grow to adulthood. We enjoyed every stage we went through…from babies, to teenagers, college, marriages and now grandkids. My advice to young parents is to relish every moment…when you look back it goes so fast. Having one-on-one time with any of our adult children is very enjoyable…especially at a baseball game. I told Todd at the game…there is nothing better than an afternoon baseball game with a cold hotdog in your lap and a hot beer in your hand and enjoying it with someone who is significant to your life!!
 
Multicultural Day:
 
I’ve already described going to the NASCAR race last Sunday…it was a very diverse day for Cherry and me – just the type of adventure we enjoy the most. We got up early Sunday morning to finish planting the garden before the storm rolled through…we made it but got soaked as we put things away. We attended church and then headed to the speedway…still raining. Having never been to the venue before, I didn’t realize the parking was all on grass – not asphalt! Well, you know we enjoyed the day…and coincidently we had tickets to “Oklahoma” at Starlight for the same evening. I was worried from the time I parked the car about navigating the parking area when time to leave…but we have four-wheel drive so I figured we could do it. Our car actually got out without slipping a tire (in four-wheel drive)…but not everyone had the advantage of all wheels turning. Many were stuck and going back and forth to get out…I was able to navigate around all of them, but not without consequence. Just as I drove around a pickup who was stuck, he gunned his engine…here is a picture of what happened
 
We hated to show up to the Starlight Theater with the car literally covered in mud…but we are Car Wash Club members! So…we googled the nearest wash facility which was only 5-miles away…the young attendants laughed when we drove in…and took our picture. I can imagine it will make a good poster advertisement for them. Still…they made the car beautiful, and we got to our show 30-minutes ahead of showtime! We went from NASCAR to mud lot to Starlight Theater…as I said – our multicultural diverse day. Home at midnight and dead tired.   
 
This weekend will be great too…can’t wait to see all the eclectic choices at the Flea, Junk, Trunk and Craft Show Saturday!! I hope I see you too…all part of a great day is seeing the downtown full and running into so many people I know. It reminds me of Saturday evenings when I was a boy in downtown Ottawa and sitting on the hood of my grandparent’s car…just visiting with all the people walking by. It’s a day gone by…but in some form can be resurrected on occasions. 
 
See you tomorrow…
 
Onward ~ John
 
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-100