Chamber leader reveals new plans
Dan Wessel, the new president of the Osakis Area Chamber of Commerce, wants to give businesses more reasons to join the organization.
"I really want to promote Osakis and do some things that will bring more people into our area," he said in an interview with the Osakis Review.
Wessel wants to build off of successful events, such as the chamber's "12 Days of Christmas" celebration that encouraged local shopping and offered prizes, a chili cook-off and other activities.
Wessel said the Chamber is also busy planning to add more fun to the Moonshine Madness, which is set for Sept. 8. "Look for exciting new things this year," he said.
Some of the additions could include a wood carving auction and mechanical pig racing.
Mechanical pigs? Yes, that's right. Wessel explained that the pigs are powered by two C-batteries and race around a track built with PVC pipes. People "buy" one of 24 pigs and the winner receives half the pot.
Panther Distillery, which is a huge part of Moonshine Madness, is also planning "something big" and the VFW is looking into the possibility of displaying a military helicopter, Wessel said.
Another event the Chamber is exploring is putting on a hamburger picnic in the park for Chamber members and employees.
"We want people to understand that we're working hard to promote every business in Osakis that is a chamber member," Wessel said.
Also, expect new amenities along the Central Lakes Trail — a bicycle repair station and a half dozen or more bikes that trail-goers can ride for free and return them.
The Osakis Visitor center, which houses the chamber's offices, will also have something new up its sleeve — new apparel that promotes Osakis as a friendly, thriving, lake community, Wessel said.
New billboards will also be going up along I-94 encouraging people to shop in Osakis.
"We're also working on our website to make sure everything is up to date," Wessel said.
Wessel moved to Osakis in 2010. He's owned his own business and is currently a sports apparel specialist for The Graphic Edge, a screen printing and embroidery business.
"I've been involved in businesses all my life," he said. "I'm very interested in how a community works and how it does things on a day-to-day basis."
Wessel's wife, Kirsten, teaches health and physical education at Osakis High School.
"One of the reasons we moved here is because of the townspeople and the community," he said. "Everyone works together."
The chamber is open to ideas and suggestions from the community. Wessel encouraged people to stop in the office or send an email through the chamber's website, www.visitosakis.com. Other members of the chamber board include Vice President Cory Abers, Treasurer Jordan Harth and Secretary Sam Schrode.