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The Blade – Another City Meeting: Brainstorming Project and Event Ideas

If you didn’t attend the meeting at the City Hall on Monday, September 28th, you missed a good meeting. Alderman Terry Zimmerman and Alderman David Slagel hosted their fourth meeting, open to the public, to discuss what can be done to keep Fairbury thriving and growing and continue to be a wonderful place to live. Twenty-four citizens, business and organizational leaders were in attendance.

A short discussion was held in regards to the October 10th cleanup being organized by a volunteer group of citizens to help elderly citizens (65+) and the disabled clean up their yards and move items to the curb or dumpster if needed. The application is available on the City’s website and at the City Hall for pick up/drop off. Volunteers will assemble at the City Hall parking lot at 9am on that morning with work gloves, rakes, brooms, etc. for doing yard work and the teams being sent out to their assigned addresses. If you know of someone who could benefit from this, encourage them or help them to complete an application and get it to the City. Volunteers for that day are also welcome!

The ongoing structure of these City meetings was discussed. The general consensus of the group was that the existing format of these meetings is VERY beneficial. Good, open discussion can be had with lots of input and brainstorming. No ideas are squelched at this stage of the process. It was generally agreed that it is too early to form a steering committee. Instead, the group was encouraged to write down ideas, issues, and concerns on slips of paper which were gathered prior to a break.   These ideas were then summarized before the group and a lively discussion followed.

Suggestions were made to pair up projects with local groups and organizations since some generous organizations look each year for some way(s) to help the community. The attendees were encouraged to make contacts and be thinking about who might be interested in involving themselves and/or a community organization in the effort of addressing the ideas presented.

Several board members from Fairbury Echoes Museum were in attendance. They offered to develop a plan for “Historical Walks” to be offered regularly during the warmer months of the year. Another person offered to look into the opportunity for “Hay Rack Rides/Cookout” in North Park.

Besides the above, a few ideas that were suggested include: Arts and Music in the Park, Family Winter Events, Organizing Cruise-Ins, a Community Garden, Streetscapes/Planters, Sweet Corn/Food Festivals, Agriculture Tours, Tour Map of Historic Locations, Ice Skating in Sunken Park, Blue Grass Gospel Music, New City Welcome Signs and more. Some “longer term” ideas include: promoting Fairbury as a retirement community, setting long term goals, shops featuring local artisans, local food markets year round, historic architecture preservation, demonstrations on our agriculture heritage, race car museum, reviving Marsh Park, historic murals, etc.

It was agreed that a long-term focus needs to be discussed. Goals need to be set for an overall plan. A community calendar of EVENTS was discussed. A brief discussion was made concerning some type of signage announcing upcoming events be set up perhaps on or near welcome signs or even electronic signs that could display these items. Overall, it was a very good meeting.

Speaking of events, in order to keep our community thriving and growing, we know from past experience how critical it is to bring new people in to town on a regular basis. If someone comes and has a great experience, most likely they will come back. Holding events on a regular basis is one of the best ways to draw people in to town.

As you may know, this week is the start of Dave’s BIG Meat Sale! This event runs through October 13th. During these next several days, just watch – you will see folks you may have never met before!

Dave’s Supermarket is a big attraction for our town. People from far and wide come to Fairbury for their Meat Sale. How can we as businesses leverage this influx of people to benefit the entire community?

The Specialty Shops are planning an event during the week of the BIG Meat Sale titled, “MEET US in Fairbury!” Many people come to town, get their meat and leave town. The goal is for these new visitors to first shop some of the specialty shops, dine at one of our great restaurants, experience our attractions, etc.

Dave’s Supermarket has graciously included the area events as part of their advertising outside the area. This, no doubt, creates the opportunity for people to consider doing other things while they are in town. As a community, we are all thankful for Dave’s Supermarket.

Mark Steffen, one of the owners of Dave’s says, “Often, in talking with our shoppers, they say they came to town for something else – to get their car serviced, go to the pharmacy, have some sewing service done, needing accounting services, etc. and then they stopped by “while they were waiting. “ The other area businesses are very important to our business. It takes working together to keep us all thriving.”

“Yes, working together is critical in small towns like ours!” says Bobbi McKeon, owner of Heart’s Desire and coordinator of the Specialty Shops group. “We as small business owners believe it is critical that each of our businesses refer our customers to the other area businesses. Letting people know what all Fairbury has to offer is so important!”

Call Bobbi at (815) 692-4500 or email fairbury@fairburyILattractions.com with any stories, ideas or suggestions for interesting topics to write for our community.