With a new president serving at the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce, the community can expect events to be rejuvenated to focus on inclusion of all ages. Along with freshening up the Chamber’s mission, the Ellis County Youth Expo will soon host its first Ellis County Fair and Rodeo.
Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce President Sandy King researched the city’s demographics and found that 127 families are moving to Waxahachie each month and the median age is 31 years old.
“If we want to do the right thing for our city and our members, we’ve got to start focusing on that age group and start reviving things,” King said.
In December, the board went through all the events the Chamber hosts and figured out if they needed to revamp the events or get rid of them. But, if an event was taken off the table, another was put in its place.
“I really wanted the Chamber to become a more community-focused, family-oriented Chamber,” King said. “We had really gotten to a point where all of our events focused on this older, upper crust of Waxahachie.”
The board and King decided to take the Waxahachie Business Expo away but will be replaced with the Ellis County Fair and Rodeo that will take place on March 23 —31. The Ellis County Youth Expo has been working closely with the Chamber on putting this event together.
“It will be a whole week long. It will start on a Friday night, and it will go all the way through that whole next week— the Grand Champion show and sale on Saturday. But we’ve got a rodeo group coming in, bull riding, barrel racing, all of the events in a rodeo.”
Friday will have a lot of events geared towards children, then on Saturday will be a Koe Wetzel concert and the carnival will start early on Sunday. On the last evening of the fair, a final VIP banquet will be held for all of the kids who sold their livestock.
“I’m expecting it to be huge, huge,” King said. “We are trying to get Ennis and Red Oak chambers to be apart of it so it can be a true Ellis County event.”
Since it falls on the same day as the Midlothian Expo, their chamber won’t be able to participate as much, but all of the signage will include them, King explained.
Along with the range of Chamber events throughout the year, the Chamber is working out the logistics of adding a co-ed softball tournament in the late summer in addition to the annual golf tournament.
King also mentioned that the Chamber Auction that’s usually held in October would be combined with the end-of-the-year awards banquet in December instead.
“But our main thing is we want to convert all of our 21 and older events to family-oriented events. I think it’s time that we have a little more inclusion,” King explained.
In 2017, the Chamber hosted after-hours networking events quarterly, and in 2018 those events will double.
“When we first kicked them off, and they were packed literally wall-to-wall, you couldn’t even breathe, so we are going to double up those and have six,” King said.
Leadership Waxahachie, which kicks off Jan. 17, is being reinvented to incorporate more education and classroom time. The Waxahachie Project was instrumental in recreating the program and brought its ideas to the Chamber for implementation.
“The first three classes are identifying the leader of the individual and then we take those skills that we’ve taught them and the next three sessions are how to be a leader in your work environment,” King said. “The third three months, we’re learning how to take those skills and how to be a leader in your community.”
Once the student graduates, he or she will commit to either bringing another person through the Leadership Waxahachie or serving on a board in the community for one year.
“We want to take this learning style we’ve created for the class and almost teach it to other chambers and organizations so it develops leaders in soft skills,” King explained.
Not only is the Chamber giving back to the community by educating the city’s young leaders, but also by giving back to local nonprofits. King has developed a program called “Chamber for the Good” where funds from each event will be set aside for nonprofits.
“I’ve noticed that there’s always something that we can give back,” King said. “Every event that we do, that committee for that event will choose a local nonprofit to receive the proceeds. I think it gives the volunteers the opportunity to work harder and the community a reason to come and be part of it because they know the money will be generated back.”
When looking back at 2017, King called it a “transitional year” as new people were put in roles that were held by others for decades. For King, she was unsure how the community and board members would perceive her vision, but she found there are several layers of strength in Waxahachie where she found the support.
“People have been wide open in accepting these ideas,” King said.