When concerns of COVID-19 knocked out the annual Small-Town Christmas celebration and the downtown Christmas parade, that took an emotional toll on local residents looking to those events to provide a spark of cheer to an otherwise gloomy year.
The Caldwell Chamber of Commerce found a way to bring back the holiday spirit to local shoppers as well as to local businesses through two new contests this year.
The Christmas Window Painting and Decorating Contest had local businesses compete for the best Christmas decoration. Their participation helped to bring an air of Christmas throughout the downtown area, encouraging people to come downtown to look at the windows and do more shopping locally.
The courthouse won the contest for its extravagant lighting and decorations of the entire building. Gather at Main took second place and Service Plus placed third.
People got in on the contest by serving as judges, “liking” the photos that businesses sent to the chamber for it to post on its Facebook page. The winners were announced on Monday.
The Shop Local Holiday Giveaway invited people to shop at local businesses, take a photo of their receipt or scan it and email it to the chamber. Every $10 spent locally was a “ticket” for the grand prize drawing for $1,000 in chamber gift certificates. The second-place prize was $250 in chamber gift certificates.
That was free money to the winners and more business for local shops and restaurants.
Teri Ennis of Fredonia won the grand prize in a drawing held Tuesday.
“I never win anything!” she said. “I wanted get (husband Joshua) some boots (at Coleman Boots), and (manager Allison Herndon) told me that if I spend some money there, I could sign up for the chamber contest.”
Jayme Harralson won the second-place prize of $250.
“I am very honored and thankful and enjoyed shopping locally, especially during these difficult times,” she said.
Chad Oliver, the executive director of the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, said he was pleased with the reception the contests received.
“We were blown away,” he said. “For our first year doing this, it was really — there are no words for it.
“The community really showed up and supported the whole endeavor. It just left us all speechless.”
Oliver said that the contests were something that the chamber could continue to do in years to come on top of the Small-Town Christmas celebration.
“More than likely, there will be another (Shop Local contest) done throughout the year,” he said. “That’s something that we’re still studying, but it’s definitely something that we will be doing again.”
Oliver added that the reaction of local businesses was “overwhelming.”
“There were more than 300 (businesses) in the Shop Local contest,” he said. “The money that went to help our local economy just by shopping locally was over $20,000.
“Individually, we had 185 who participated in this giveaway. It has been just outstanding.”
Oliver credited the sponsoring businesses and people who helped to put the Shop Local contest together. Those included author Michelle Wyatt, Planters Bank, West Kentucky ATV, Kentucky Farm Bureau, Service Plus, First Southern Bank, WPKY radio and Collaborate Marketing.
The chamber awarded daily prizes of $50 gift certificates from Dec. 10 through Dec. 18.
Those winners — in chronological order — were Tamara New, Nancy Sledge, Kathryn Brinkley, Sarah Utley, Nicole Adams, Jennifer Hale, Taruress Peterson and Anna Cook.
“Just knowing those will help with other Christmases or be stocking stuffers for somebody is what it’s all about,” Oliver said. “It’s great when we can come together to help one another.
“The contests just lifted everybody’s spirits. We heard about customers who were competing with each other to see who could get the most receipts in. It just brought the community out. It was something that we needed greatly from what we are hearing about right now.”
The chamber changed its name from Princeton/Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce to Caldwell Chamber of Commerce this week.
“We are slowly integrating our name as we go along,” Oliver said.
More information about the chamber can be found at princetonkychamber.org.