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Ogdensburg Chamber president looks back on a successful year

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Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce President Lori A. Smithers looks forward to a second year in the leadership position in 2013 confident that it will be a repeat of 2012.

Successful, that is.

Mrs. Smithers said the Chamber continued this year to prove its skill at organizing crowd-pleasing, profitable events. The summer North Country Wine, Beer and Food Festival, in its fourth year, is an established tourist destination. The debut of the Ogtoberfest of food, beer and music last month looks that way already.

“Yes, it was a good year,” Mrs. Smithers said Wednesday. “They were both successful events and they brought a lot of people to the community who were spending money at our local merchants, and we were able to showcase some of the wonderful assets Ogdensburg has to offer, like the waterfront.”

Mrs. Smithers, who is director of development at United Helpers Management Company, wasn’t surprised that the quickly organized Ogtoberfest was a hit. By contrast, the wine, beer and food festival is months in the making.

“I wasn’t necessarily surprised that it was a success because we had such a great group of dedicated volunteers on the committee,” she said. “We were very pleased with the number of people who came out. We had people here from Colton, Parishville, Potsdam, Canton, Massena and Heuvelton.”

Next year will be better.

“We are very excited about making next year’s event even more of a true community event and expanding on the success we had this year,” Mrs. Smithers said. “We’ve already got ideas.”

The Chamber is looking ahead to, among other things, the village of Waddington hosting of the national Bass Anglers Sportsman Society bass-fishing tournament.

“The big BASS tournament will be coming to the area next summer and we are very excited about that,” Mrs. Smithers said. “It will really boost the local economies, provide an influx of sales tax and bed tax revenue, and it will bring so many people to the area. They will have an opportunity to see what a great place this is and to experience fishing in one of our greatest assets, the St. Lawrence River.”

In 2013, Mrs. Smithers will once again be relying on Sandra M. Porter, the Chamber’s executive director, and the organization’s 24-member board.

“Sandy is a staple at the Chamber,” she said. “She is a true asset to the Chamber and the community and she is very dedicated and passionate about the work she does. She is a very detail-oriented person, and it shows. Events like ours require a lot of details, and the details do make the difference. I am very proud to work with such a great group of volunteers. These events also require a team effort and lots of volunteers and we are very fortunate to have a great group of people.”

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