NORWICH – Commerce Chenango is once again partnering with NBT Bank to bring members a Hawaiian themed “Soiree in The Park.” The event will be held in East Park in downtown Norwich on May 18th. The member only segment will take place from 5-7 p.m.
The Brackel Bar and Grill, located in McDonough will be catering the event with beverages offered by Legendary Catering. Attendees will also be treated to a toasted coconut and pineapple creation, made with Chobani Greek yogurt and inspired by a recipe from the SoHo Café in New York City.
The “Soiree” will continue with our awards ceremony. The prestigious “Business of the Year” award will be presented to Friends of Rogers (FOR) Environmental Education Center. FOR, a not-for-profit group affiliated with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Rogers Education Center, reached an agreement with the DEC in 2011 to operate the Center and continue to offer educational activities and programs at the Sherburne venue. Since that time the organization, currently led by Simon Solomon, has expanded their educational programs, fun-family workshops and seminars, and fundraising events.
Sharon Pelosi, FOR Board of Directors, said: “Rogers Center has been an important part of the Chenango community for generations, and we grateful for the support of the local business community, residents, and local foundations that have enabled us to continue that legacy following the state's closure of the facility in 2010. We have a dedicated and talented staff, a committed board of directors and countless passionate volunteers whose teamwork have made this venture possible. Going forward, we are working to attain a long-term commitment from NYS to allow Friends of Rogers to continue operating the Rogers Center with updated and expanded exhibits and programs.”
FOR attendance has increased to over 16,000 per year, not including numbers for those that use the trails for hiking. Events like the Winter Living Celebration, Earth Fest, Animals of Halloween and the Spring Frolic add to the annual activities.
The “Entrepreneur of the Year” award will be presented to Don and Andrea Cascun, owners of Cascun Farm and The Butcher, the Baker, the Sandwich Maker. The two entrepreneurs started with the purchase of 100 chicks in 2012, and soon grew to 5,000 chickens, adding turkeys, goats, rabbits and lambs. Consumer demand for natural and locally produced food kept Don and Andrea on their toes as they began to provide more locally produced meat and poultry and in April 2013, they created a D/B/A and opened The Butcher Block and Farm Market. In 2015, the Cascun’s set up a second corporation called The Butcher the Baker and the Sandwich Maker that is housed on Main Street in Greene and caters to the breakfast and lunch crowd using the “farm to table” concept. They deliver three times a week to New York City and return with baked goods for their café. They also accept special orders from their customers. Future endeavors include widening their distribution by expanding to a larger processing facility, adding jobs and growing their café business.
There will also be a special award presentation aptly named the EPIC award which stands for entrepreneurial, progressive, innovative and collaborative. In 2015, an Oxford/Otselic Valley-based group of educators, business people, and concerned citizens interested in youth employment, workforce development and entrepreneurship, implemented multiple programs with the collaboration of Steve Palmatier, the Southern Tier Startup Alliance, DCMO BOCES, Oxford and Otselic Valley School Districts and Morrisville State College, Norwich. Geared toward both students and members of the community, a variety of “Entrepreneur Nights” with specialty programming was scheduled, as well as a work-based learning program for students in the Oxford Academy School district. Moving forward, the group would like to expand to other school districts and communities in the region using the same type of framework.
Directly following the awards ceremony, the entertainment portion of the “Soiree” will start at 7 p.m. and is sponsored by the Chenango Blues Association. Syracuse-based band The Lightkeepers will perform on stage for both members and the general public. The Lightkeepers debut album was released in September, 2015 and received the Brian Bourke Award for the Best New Artist at the Syracuse Area Music Awards (SAMMYs) in March, 2016.
The annual “Soiree in the Park” would not be possible without the continued support of our sponsors, NBT Bank, our Diamond Sponsor, and co-sponsors; NBT-Mang Insurance Agency, the Raymond Corporation, Chobani and Preferred Mutual Insurance Company.