The annual banquet, the burnout contests and Food Truck Fridays were highlights of 2018 for the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce.

To start St. Clair’s 175th Anniversary off, the Chamber held its annual Celebrate St. Clair banquet toward the beginning of 2018. The theme was “Step Back in Time…From Travelers Repose to St. Clair.”

The event is to honor community individuals and organizations for their accomplishments. Entertainment included Professor Farquar and Pole Cat Annie and they performed their vaudeville act.

“Attendance for this event continues to increase and has truly become an evening of enjoyment with the recent addition of entertainment,” Chamber Executive Director Charlene Saling said.

This year’s banquet will be Saturday, March 30, at 5 p.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Christian Life Center, according to Saling.

In September, the Chamber partnered with the Route 66 Car Club again for the second annual Car Cruise on Main Street and burnout contests. A total of 144 cars and several motorcycles were displayed.

Saling said the Show Me Burnouts started in 2017 as an activity called “Get Your Eclipse on Route 66” during the eclipse weekend.

“Because of its large success and interest, it was decided that the partnership would continue,” Saling said.

She added that last year’s burnout contests “proved to be even bigger and better than the 2017 event.”

The car cruise also included a craft fair put on by the newly formed Downtown St. Clair District, Inc.

Through this event, the Chamber was able to offer an opportunity for economic development to our community,” Saling said.

“This committee is a real workhorse for the Chamber and has several additions for the 2019 year so stay tuned for more to come.”

The 2019 Show Me Burnouts will be held on Sunday, Sept. 22.

For the first time last summer, the Chamber held multiple food truck events at Orchard Park. The food truck events were created as another economic development activity for the community, according to Saling.

The events featured live music and three or so food trucks for people to purchase items. Saling said the events “were a great success.”

“The Chamber realized no income (would come) from this event, but felt this would be something that would bring the community together, and offer a way to showcase our Orchard Drive Park with hope of bringing attention to St. Clair from the surrounding communities as being the first to bring a food truck event to the area,” she said.

This summer’s food truck events will be in conjunction with the Meramec Area Optimist Club’s movies in the park showings. The events will be held on the first Friday of the month in May, June, July, August and September.

In addition, Saling said food services at each event will be extended from 5-9 p.m. with live music playing from 6-8 p.m.

“This event is totally funded by sponsorships from the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce and its members with a goal of economic development for St. Clair,” Saling said.

“Our hopes are to increase attendance this year, which will result in bringing in more food trucks. We have already been contacted by the food trucks that served our event last year wanting to get on our 2019 schedule.”

Board of Directors, Officers

The 2019 board of directors and officers include President Tim Baker, Vice President Tim Davis, Secretary/Treasurer Justin Strauser, immediate Past President Jamie Keen, and directors Nadine Aitch, Clayton Buckthorpe, Chris Dulworth and Jennifer Glover.

“One of the benefits of being a chamber member on the local level is that a business is automatically a part of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the state level and the state federation alliance,” Saling said.

Last year, the Chamber informed its members of an insurance program offered to small businesses throughout the state federation.

“Through that program, the Chamber has gained new membership as a result of this insurance program as well as offering something to our long time members that has realized great savings in their insurance costs,” Saling said.

“During the first quarter of the year in conjunction with our membership drive we will be making contact with current members to make sure they are aware of this great benefit.”

2019 Goals

The Chamber will continue to focus on community partnerships this year, Saling said.

“We believe in the power of two and have been able to partner with many great organizations this past year. In addition, communication is vital,” she said.

Starting in March, the Chamber will launch a monthly newsletter to help spread the word throughout the community.

“For several years, there has been discussion surrounding ‘getting the word’ out to the business community and community at large of Chamber and community events,” Saling said.

In the works is a Made in St. Clair Expo to showcase local businesses and the products that are made in the community, she added. The target date for this event will be in October.

Starting Jan. 23, the monthly meetings will be held at the American Legion Post 347, according to Saling.

“We have enjoyed the use of Budget Lodging Windows to the West for many years now and appreciate the offer made many years ago, but (we) feel sure it is to the best interest for all concerned to make this change,” she said.