Local Events

At the Heart of Every Family Tradition Lies a Great Experience Worth Repeating

Local Events

At the Heart of Every Family Tradition Lies a Great Experience Worth Repeating

No matter when you decide to visit, you’ll likely find an event happening in the area. We host signature events like the Pequot Lakes Stars and Stripes Days in July. Have you been to the best St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Minnesota?! You’ll find the parade in Crosslake. How about kickin’ your boots up at Lakes Jam—the Lakes Area’s biggest country and rock fest. Other local businesses and communities host festivals, live music, and even fireworks. Make these popular events a family tradition.

2018 Brainerd Lakes Chamber Celebration of Excellence Annual Dinner

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Name: 2018 Brainerd Lakes Chamber Celebration of Excellence Annual Dinner
Date: November 15, 2018
Time: 5:00 PM - 8:30 PM CST
Registration: Sorry, public registration for this event has been closed.
Event Description:

Lights! Camera! Action! Join the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and Widseth Smith Nolting for a Classic Hollywood Stars Premiere on November 15, 2018 at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake. Walk the Red Carpet of Fame to congratulate our newest cast of stars for our Leadership Experience Class of 2018, Business Excellence Award, Business Legacy Award, new Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year Award and announcement of our Destination Downtown 2.0 Business Challenge Winner!

Table Sponsor and Individual Dinner Tickets Form



Inducted into the Blue Ox Business Academy’s Leadership Experience Hall of Fame will be the Class of 2018. The Leadership Experience is a ten-month program (11 full days!) that is designed for emerging leaders and high-potential employees to develop essential skills and insights into their leadership character. The Brainerd Lakes Chamber is proud to have over 400 graduates from the Leadership program that originated in 1999. Several of our alumni have grown and developed into some of our area’s most influential leaders! Join us in celebrating this year’s Leadership Experience Class of 2018!

Leadership Class of 2018:
Sara Ahlers (A.W. Research Laboratories), Jamie Bieser (Nor-Son), Kristi Blad (Nor-Son), Chris Boelter (Frandsen Bank and Trust), Drew Boland (Ameriprise Financial- Stroot, Schumer & Associates), Dianna Boyer (Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union), Amy Carlson (Thelen Heating and Roofing), Luke Christiansen (Crow Wing Power), Mike DeMuth (Deerwood Bank), Jennifer DeVries (Tri County Action Partnership), Darin Dirkes (Nor-Son), Colleen Dols (Brainerd Lakes Chamber), Eric Halbert (Baratto Brothers Construction), Jeff Hanson (Hy-Tec Construction), Gina Heyer (Crow Wing County), John Hoge (Access North Center for Independent Livin gof NE MN), Steve Isle (Thelen Heating and Roofing), Lauren Johnson (CTC), Wayne Knopf (Midwest Security & Fire), Vicki Kueker (Life Link III), Ryan Lapka (Pequot Tool & Manufacturing), Jill Leonard (Avantech), Rachael Lund (Days Inn & Suites), Ashley Martel (Widseth Smith Nolting), Reed Nelson (RiverWood Bank), Lars Ohlin (Deerwood Bank), Philip Olsen (Central Lakes College), Mike Owen (BlackRidgeBANK), Nate Reiley (Thelen Heating and Roofing), Sara Simon (Boyd Lodge), Krista Spizzo (Cuyuna Regional Medical Center), Brian Stenglein (Clow Stamping Company), Max Walter (CTC), Becky Wohl (LINDAR Corporation) and Glen Young (Pequot Tool & Manufacturing).


Joining our cast of legendary Business Excellence Award winners is Cuyuna Regional Medical Center! They will be recognized for their leadership, innovation, employee investment and community service. Brainerd Dispatch is proud to sponsor the Business Excellence Award and present it to Cuyuna Regional Medical Center during the Brainerd Lakes Chamber’s premiere event of the year!
Cuyuna Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is a community-built facility that serves approximately 30,000 people in the beautiful Brainerd Lakes area. Their experienced physicians and staff bring a progressive, “can-do” approach to rural healthcare, delivering a wide range high-quality services through one convenient continuum of care.

CRMC got its start in the 1950's when the old Miner's Hospital closed and 17 Cuyuna Range cities and townships joined together to build a new district hospital. The communities have worked together to keep high quality health care local for more than 50 years. Today, over 900 CRMC doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and support staff continue their mission to build a proactive, high-tech patient-centered medical community.


Headlining the Celebration of Excellence will be the presentation of the Business Legacy Award by the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and RiverWood Bank to Paul and Lynn Hunt! They are an amazing couple who have achieved exceptional business success in their lifetime. We seek to recognize inspiring leadership that transcends business and leaves a legacy of community and economic vitality for generations to come. 
For three decades this dynamic duo has shared a passion for innovation; continuously seeking ways to do and make things better.  

Lynn and Paul Hunt have been nominated for their outstanding achievement in business development combined with an extraordinary commitment to community and philanthropy.  Accomplished entrepreneurs, they built a nationally recognized business, Hunt Technologies Inc. (HTI); starting in their basement with just two employees and growing to over 180 employees and then a successfully staged exit.  With new ventures, they have continued to make an investment of time, talent, and resources with their employees, the region, and many individuals who have received personal, educational, and economic support.  

"The most important asset we have is an insatiable curiosity about the world around us.  We crave knowledge and skills to help others.  If an idea is brought out, we want to understand it inside and out.  But most of all we want to ultimately help bring products and ideas to market that can improve the physical world for people."


Our Red Carpet Premiere would not be complete without celebrating the smaller businesses in our community that form the backbone of our local economy. New in 2018 the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and Cub Foods in Brainerd and Baxter are excited to present the first-ever Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year Award to Jack Pine Brewery which is a small business that truly personifies the spirit of entrepreneurship, pride and success! The Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year Award honors a Brainerd Lakes Chamber business that employs up to 25 team members with the following attributes: leadership, innovation, employee investment and community service. Just as the Jack Pine is one of the first trees to take root after a forest fire, Patrick and Sara Sundberg’s brewery was the first to be established in the Brainerd Lakes Area since prohibition. 


Their small startup began in 2012 by making 100 gallons at a time on College Drive in Baxter. In the coming years, the brewery saw continued growth and eventually outgrew its original location. In the fall of 2016, they broke ground on a new location which opened the spring of 2017. The upgraded taproom and production space increased capacity on both fronts and included the addition of an in-house canning line. Their first year of production yielded 234 barrels of beer (1 barrel = 31 gallons). Their continued growth has expanded their market share range from Walker to Hutchinson and production to 2,000 barrels this year! An eagerness to grow, a passion to impress, and a solid focus on quality and variety distinguish Jack Pine Brewery as a leader in craft beer in the Brainerd Lakes Area.

"When I saw that the Chamber was adding a Small Business of the Year Award to its annual recognition program, I knew I had to throw my hat into the running.  I'm proud of how Jack Pine has grown the past five and a half years in both size and community involvement.  This award provides validation of all the hard work that everyone at Jack Pine puts in day in and day out.  I'm truly honored to have been selected as the first winner of the Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year Award." - Patrick Sundberg



Drum Roll Please! Since we launched the contest last July, we've met the dreamers, the movers and shakers, the rain-maikers and the risk-takers. After three intense phases of competition for a $50,000 community prize package, here are the awe-inspiring finalists who rose to the top. Our Destination Downtown Business Challenge Finalists are:


  • Marie Kirsch, Knotty Pine Bakery
  • Mark, Nesheim, Sourdough Sam's
  • Lindsay Topp, BluPaisley Boutique

Presentation of the Destination Downtown Business Challenge winner will be announced at the end of the evening! And the winner is???

Our 2017 Destination Downtown Challenge winner was Purple Fern Bath Company!

Join us for Lights! Camera! Action!
A Classic Hollywood Star Premiere for the Brainerd Lakes Chamber’s annual Celebration of Excellence on November 15, 2018 at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake.

Table Sponsor and Individual Tickets Form

LIGHTS! ($1,000)

  • Reserved table with prime seating up front
  • Dinner tickets for 8
  • Funds help support our LakesPROUD regional campaign
CAMERA! ($750)
  • Reserved table with prime seating in the middle
  • Dinner tickets for 8
ACTION! ($650)
  • Reserved table
  • Dinner tickets for 8

INDIVIDUAL DINNER TICKETS: ($60 / 1; Non-reserved seating)

 Support the LakesPROUD Movement
Help us keep it local!
  • $50 LakesPROUD Donation
  • $100 LakesPROUD Donation
Suggested Dress Code: Let the movie stars from the 1940's - 1950's inspire your attire! Cary Grant, Aubrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor are just a few of the iconic stars who have gracefully walked the Red Carpet. Watch the short video for inspiration!


5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
  • Social Hour (appetizers, cash bar and live music by Jazz: Cubed)
    • Appetizer Menu: Cheese Fondue Display with Emmentaler, Gruyere Cheeses Cubed Breads & Meats, Apples, Pears, Pretzel Pieces, Potato Duck Fat Fries, Deviled Eggs and Shrimp Cocktail

6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

  • Celebration of Excellence Welcome -
  • Recognition of volunteers, committees, and retiring board members
  • Graduation of the Leadership Class of 2018
  • Plated Dinner
    • 3 Course Meal- Classic Waldorf Salad with Apples, Pears, Figs, Raisins, Celery, Cashews, Walnuts, Grapes and Lemon Dressing. Beef Wellington stuffed with Pot Roast and Sauteed Vegetables, Bearnaise Sauce, Twice Baked Potato and Seasonal Vegetables. Dou of Cannoli's, Chocolate Chip and Pistachio.
  • Business Excellence Award Presentation - Sponsored by Brainerd Dispatch
  • Business Legacy Award Presentation - Sponsored by Riverwood Bank
  • Lakes Proud Small Business Award Presentation - Sponsored by Cub Foods
  • Destination Downtown 2.0 Presentation and Winner Announced!


The Brainerd Lakes Chamber will present three awards at its seventh-annual Celebration of Excellence on November 15th - the traditional Business Excellence Award, which goes to an outstanding local business, the Business Legacy Award, which celebrates individual lifetime achievements as well as community and economic contributions and the New Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year Award which will recognize a small business that personifies the spirit of entrepreneurship in the Brainerd Lakes Area! 
For all three awards, a nomination/application process was announced in June 2018. After the deadline passed in mid-July, a ten-member volunteer selection committee independently scored and discussed each applicant before choosing the recipients.
Past recipients of the Business Excellence Award include:

  • Widseth Smith Nolting (2012)
  • Crosswoods Golf (2013)

  • Grand View Lodge (2014)

  • Ultra Paws LLC (2015)
  • Just for Kix (2016)
  • CTC (2017)

Past recipient of the Business Legacy Award:
  • Stewart C. Mills Jr. (2016)
  • Arnie Johnson (2017)
Destination Downtown Business Challenge:
  • The Purple Fern Bath Company (2017)
Event Media:
Cragun's Resort on Gull Lake
Sports Centre

11000 Cragun's Drive
Brainerd, MN 56401

Date/Time Information:
Thursday, November 15, 2018
5:00 p.m. - Social
6:00 p.m. - Leadership Experience Class of 2018
6:30 p.m. - Plated dinner
7:00 p.m. - Celebration of Excellence program
Contact Information:
Sue Galligan 218-822-7119
LIGHTS! Table Sponsor: $1000
CAMERA! Table Sponsor: $750
ACTION! Table Sponsor: $650
Individul Dinner Tickets: $60

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