City of Residence: Perry
Occupation: President and CEO of the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce
QUESTION: Whats big on the Perry calendar?
ANSWER: Theres always something good going on in Perry, but the 25th Annual Dogwood Festival coming April 13-14 is certainly big. Folks need to plan ahead and be there.
QUESTION: Describe it.
ANSWER: The festival is two days of great arts and crafts on exhibit downtown, and this year were adding some exciting events to make it all the more fun, draw more people and put more heads on beds in Perry. Were adding a hot air balloon rally and a DockDog competition.
QUESTION: Hot air balloons are fairly familiar. What will you do with the balloons?
ANSWER: April 13 therell be a rally at the Georgia National Fairgrounds. Were planning on 15 hot air balloons, and theyll offer tethered rides and at dusk will have a balloon glow where pilots light up their balloons against the night sky. Gates open for that at 4 p.m., and its $5 per person getting onto the fairgrounds. Children under 6 are free. Therell also be kids activities and a stage with live music.
QUESTION: All this while the craft show is under way?
ANSWER: Right. The festival will be going on during the day downtown with about 100 arts and crafts vendors. Were encouraging people to park at the fairgrounds and take one of our trams to the arts and crafts show then come back and see the balloons. That way they can enjoy the great atmosphere of downtown Perry with the arts and crafts and the thrill of the balloons at the fairgrounds.
QUESTION: The DockDog competition may not be so familiar.
ANSWER: It is to anyone who watches the Duck Dynasty reality show or is really into duck hunting. Our event is a preliminary regional event for the national DockDog event later in the year in Las Vegas.
QUESTION: Just what is it?
ANSWER: Well put up a large above-ground pool with a dock attached in front of the New Perry Hotel on Main Street. Hunting dogs will compete by leaping off the dock after decoy ducks to display various skills. Theyre judged in ways like how far or high they jump, speed in retrieving, that sort of thing. Its really great family entertainment. There will be 100 or so dogs competing.
QUESTION: The Dogwood Festival is growing -- along with the work
ANSWER: Since Ive come to the chamber, Ive been so impressed with the city of Perry and their support and logistics help in things weve not done before. A two-day dog event downtown? They were willing to jump right in and say, Lets do it! My experience has been some smaller towns dont really want to grow and promote themselves, but Perry isnt that way at all. There so much here, the great downtown, the fairgrounds and the wonderful people and businesses. We want to make use of it
QUESTION: Youre still relatively new to the role of chamber president/CEO.
ANSWER: We lived in Warner Robins for the last eight years, and I worked for Macons Cherry Blossom Festival and my husband, Ryan, for the Cantrell Center for Physical Therapy and Wellness. When I was fortunate enough to get this job last April, we put our house on the market and moved to Perry.
QUESTION: Where are you from originally?
ANSWER: Montezuma, Ga. I went to Mercer and was an intern for the Macon Whoopee hockey team. Thats where I met my husband. He was a hockey player from Ottawa, Canada, playing for the Macon Whoopee. He suffered a career-ending shoulder injury, and since I dont speak French, we got to stay here. He really likes Middle Georgia, too. He naturalized and became a U.S. citizen four years ago.
QUESTION: Shifting from sports and event promotion to chamber work, any surprises?
ANSWER: Not a whole lot. I worked very closely with the chamber in Macon with the Cherry Blossom Festival, so I had a pretty good inside look. The surprise here was how progressive and forward thinking this community is with such tremendous chamber members and volunteers. We all want to see Perry be successful professionally and personally.
QUESTION: Whats another big Perry chamber event?
ANSWER: We have the Perry chambers Independence Parade and Freedom Fireworks. The fireworks are at the Georgia National Fairgrounds. We began the parade last year and are adding the fireworks this year. Casey Hayward will be grand marshal. Casey is a Perry High School graduate who plays for the Green Bay Packers. He could win defensive rookie of the year this year.
QUESTION: Exactly when will the parade and fireworks be?
ANSWER: Due to other scheduling at the fairgrounds, it will be June 30 rather than July 4.
QUESTION: Whats your vision for the chamber?
ANSWER: To see Perry continue to grow through different entertainment avenues and at the same time keep its historic downtown a focus. Of course we want to grow and adapt as a chamber to best serve our members.
Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at email@example.com.