Friday, June 05, 2009

UPDATED INFO IN COMMENTS SECTION: Annual Mayor's Breakfast - keep the tradition alive or start a new one

There’s been much written and talked about during this past week over the cancellation of the annual Mayor’s Breakfast – for approximately 20 years a celebrated event each summer which heralded the start of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. It has been a way for locals and visitors here for the convention and fly-in to break bread together and enjoy each other’s company, enjoy a little entertainment and kick off the weeklong convention activities. And as the Oshkosh Northwestern said in its editorial “it was a chance for convention goers to get to know the hospitality of the city first hand.” That is all being lost with the cancellation of the event, which according to organizers has lost several longtime volunteers to "busy schedules or other community events," thus making the organizing and holding of the event this year impractical. Economic conditions were also cited as a reason for the cancellation.

Of course, the news has stirred much conversation on the street and on the blogs, with suspicions being raised that people left the committee because Paul Esslinger has been elected mayor. While that can certainly be viewed as petty politics, one can somewhat understand such a position – at least at first blush – if that is, in fact, the case. Comments have been made and questions raised to the effect of why would those organizing the event want to continue doing it for a mayor who has historically put down so many of the people and/or groups associated with this event, or who continually harps about needs versus wants and this is likely viewed by him as one of those downtown events we don’t need and can do without. Indeed, for every person talking or blogging about it there is an opinion, coupled with a dose of cynicism or speculation.

The cancellation of this event is a shame on many levels, but especially given that we have a brand new convention center – one that was unveiled to the city earlier this year. This year’s breakfast would be the perfect time to unveil it to the world, especially when many of these guests are from companies or organizations where they may have a hand in being able to bring other convention business to Oshkosh. Not to mention it is at a time when the reconstruction of Main Street is not all that far off, and we are about to celebrate the release of “Public Enemies” with many activities planned for downtown.

My suggestion is this: Perhaps someone at the Chamber, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Community Foundation, other local organization, or even EAA itself (though I’m sure they have a lot already on their plate) could help get the breakfast organized, put out a call for new volunteers to pull it off, and hold the breakfast as usual, showcasing the new convention center in the process. Surely in a city that has never had a loss of people stepping up to the plate to help out when there’s been a need, this can be accomplished. And if there are hard feelings because of the Esslinger-factor, call the event something else. It doesn’t have to be called the Mayor’s Breakfast. But let’s not make citizens and visitors who look forward to the event, our downtown, or our image as a community suffer. After all, the world – quite literally – will be watching.


Blogger CJ said...

Who was on the core committee (organization wise)?

Who would one contact to volunteer to help?

June 05, 2009 12:35 PM  
Blogger Cheryl Hentz said...

CJ, it is my understanding that not one particular organization was responsible for heading up the mayor's breakfast, but that rather it was people from a variety of organizations.

I can tell you that since receiving your comment and a few phone calls, I have made a couple calls of my own and been told that a community breakfast is being planned - an announcement about which will be forthcoming in the near future. I will try getting one or two of the contact people for this breakfast on a future show and have also been told that volunteers will definitely be needed. So once an announcement is made and/or an appearance on the show is done, people will know who to contact to lend those much-needed volunteer efforts.

Thanks for being willing to pitch in. If we each do a little bit in our own way to help, this event can be both successful and the start of a new tradition, while not losing continuity or so many of the elements that made this breakfast such an important part of our city's history.

June 05, 2009 3:53 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Thanks for the input Cheryl.
And the good news!

June 06, 2009 1:04 PM  
Blogger Cheryl Hentz said...

You're quite welcome. I'll post more as I know it or it becomes available publicly.

June 06, 2009 2:11 PM  

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