The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce has announced that it is taking nominations for its 2021 Chamber Hall of Fame Award.
The award recognizes a business or organization that has been in operation for more than 10 years and is a pillar in the community, demonstrating excellence and impact beyond their own walls.
The Freeman’s Journal, which was founded in 1808, was an inaugural Hall of Fame member, inducted in 2017.
Other businesses who have been inducted into the Chamber’s Hall include: The Inn at Cooperstown, The Otesaga Resort Hotel, The Clark Sports Center, Church and Scott, Mohican Flowers, Hyde Hall, Fly Creek Cider Mill, Ommegang, the Cooperstown Graduate Program, The Farmers’ Museum, Spurbeck’s Grocery, Susquehanna SPCA, Cooperstown Bat Company, Cooperstown Fire Department, Cooperstown Farmers Market, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Pathfinder Village (Community for Down syndrome), Stagecoach Coffee in Cooperstown, and the Lake ’N Pines Motel.
When the going gets tough, the entrepreneurs get going.
A corollary: The entrepreneurial spirit isn’t limited to entrepreneurs. (Per Merriam-Webster: “A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater-than-normal financial risks in order to do so.”)
So it was telling to watch the Cooperstown Chamber’s first “Coffee With Coop” panel discussion via Zoom last Friday, March 19. Kudos to the Chamber, and Executive Director Tara Burke, who was also an adept emcee.
It was a little disheartening to hear a recitation of all the Hall of Fame cancellations, although the scope of its undertakings – an estimated 80,000 fans were expected at Derek Jeter’s Induction – make them particularly fraught, not to mention dangerous, in Time of COVID.
And yet, the entrepreneurial spirit lived in presentations by, first, Fenimore President/CEO Paul D’Ambrosio and then, in Glimmerglass Opera General & Artistic Director Francesca Zambello.
Newly elected Village Trustee Hannah Bergene was already sold on Cooperstown.
But her first Induction Weekend working for the Chamber of Commerce – in 2015, the Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez year – she got sold all over again.
Baseball fans were jammed onto the front steps of Chamber headquarters in that yellow-and-white cottage at 31 Chestnut St., trying to catch a glimpse of their heroes passing by in the Legends of the Game parade.
“They were so in awe,” said Bergene. “They had waited all their lives to come here. We” – who live here – “take it for granted.”
She maintained that excitement for her five years at the Chamber, where she rose to marketing director under Executive Director Matt Hazzard, and for the past two years as social media director at Paperkite Creative, the Internet marketing firm.
Tuesday, March 16, Bergene and Trustee Cindy Falk, the deputy mayor, ran unopposed and received 139 and 136 votes respectively. Both are Democrats.
She ran, Bergene said in an interview Saturday, March 13, “because Mac asked me too” – Trustee Mac Benton, 23, who with County Democratic Chairman Clark Oliver, 22, have been recruiting young people here, in Oneonta and countywide to run for office.
The new trustee, her interest piqued by her work at the Chamber of Commerce, had considered elected office at some point, but “in my mind, it was years in the future.
“But why not? Why not get involved?” she asked herself. “The village needs young people to attract other young people here.”
It is a true honor to write to you today and encourage residents to get out and support Hanna Bergene as trustee for the Village of Cooperstown.
I had the distinct privilege to work alongside Hanna during her tenure at the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce. For more than three years, Hanna worked diligently on behalf of both the businesses and residents of our community. On a daily basis her tireless work ethic and passion was on display, skills that she will bring with her to the trustee position.
In our next trustee, it is essential we have someone with a vision for the future of Cooperstown. Having been born and raised here, Hanna would bring her local knowledge and insight to the position. As a young professional, she has grown expediently, from her days at Stagecoach Coffee, to her role at the Chamber, she now serves as a key figure in marketing our county in her role at Paperkite Creative.
All of these experiences have positioned her as the right person at the right time to serve in this role.
While working together, we spoke frequently on the amazing opportunities and potential for our beautiful village. For key issues that have been discussed in this community for years, such as more affordable housing, creating a vibrant Main Street, and embracing younger generations, we need a Trustee that will go the extra mile. She has proven it time and time again with her volunteerism and involvement in local community groups.
For anyone that knows Hanna, her love for our community is evident, and I am confident that she will serve the entire community well.
It is with great enthusiasm that I write this letter of endorsement for Hanna Bergene, candidate for Trustee for the Village of Cooperstown.
I have known Hanna for over six years, first when I was a board member for the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce while she was the director of marketing and events. Hanna’s work ethic and dedication impressed me in all of our interactions; she was prepared and professional at all times. She was particularly successful in executing the Chamber’s many events, which required a lot of collaboration, creativity, and dedication.
For the past two years I have been fortunate enough to have Hanna join the team at Paperkite as our social media manager. She has added tremendous value to the agency with her creative approach and ability to see the bigger picture for our clients and agency to achieve results.
It is these qualities that I believe will make her an effective and successful trustee.
Having seen Hanna operate in these roles over the years, I know she will bring the same dedication, creativity and vision that the job requires.
COOPERSTOWN – During down times at Kate’s Upstate, Jess Lanza, new president of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce board of directors, sits on one of the turquoise chairs out front, chatting with tourists, customers and other businesspeople who happen to walk by.
“We’re right in the center,” said Lanza, the first merchant to lead the Cooperstown chamber board since 2007, when Riverwood’s Rick Gibbons passed the mantle to Inn at Cooperstown proprietor Marc Kingsley. “”We have the pulse of what’s going on.”
Jess and his wife, the former Kate Whitney, were both born in the Northeast – he in Fort Lee, N.J.; she in Sidney – were raised in Florida.
They met at Stetson College – it was founded by John B. Stetson, who developed the famous cowboy hat – in DeLand, Fla. “We had classes together,” said Jess, who double-majored in poli-sci and business administration, “and a lot of mutual friends.”
BASEBALL – Noon. Virtual Voices of the Game to honor Hall of Fame 2020 inductee Derek Jeter. Learn more about how the Yankees 5 world series titles with Jeter as the shortstop in every season. Jeter will be joined by fellow Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera, Joe Torre reflecting on their teams and the moments that shaped a dynasty. Visit baseballhall.org/events/virtual-legends-of-the-game-Ted-Simmons?date=0 for details.
BASEBALL – Noon. Virtual Voices of the Game to honor Hall of Fame 2020 inductee Larry Walker, the second Canadian to be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Will also feature Fergie Jenkins, the first Canadian inductee, to discuss playing ball in Canada and earning their place in Cooperstown. Visit baseballhall.org/events/virtual-legends-of-the-game-Larry-Walker?date=0 for details.
Hanna Bergene, 2020 Cooperstown Winter Carnival co-chair, warns that things could get cheesy.
“New this year is a mac and cheese contest at the Carnival closer,” she said. “We heard from the restaurants that the chicken wing contest was kind of stale – and who doesn’t love mac and cheese in the middle of winter?”
The contest will be free, allowing all the carnival goers to taste samples from almost a dozen restaurants at Upstate Bar & Grill.
And if that doesn’t fill you up, you can head over to the annual Grilled Cheese For a Good Cause at The Farmer’s Market, to benefit Otsego 2000. “It’s going to be a very cheesy Sunday,” she joked.
This year’s carnival has a “Roaring 20s” theme. “It’s glitzy, it’s glam, it’s a little mysterious,” said Bergene. “We wanted to give 2020 a fresh start.”
And what’s a Roaring 20s party without a speakeasy and some dancing? “We’ve got eight local restaurants making 1920s cocktails for the cocktail contest,” she said. “And everyone is really excited to dress up.”
The Speakeasy will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Vet’s Club, and there are prizes for best flapper and most dapper, while Hanzolo will be on hand to help guests dance the night away.
They expanded the carnival to beyond downtown Cooperstown, with the lip-synch contest – dubbed “The Roaring 20s Showdown” hosted 6-9 Friday, Feb. 7, at Brewery Ommegang.
“Ommegang had a great interest in being involved this year and we were open to the idea of it,” she said. “They’re an excellent venue and the lip-synch is always a good time.”
Also new this year is the expanded lineup of trunk shows and pop-up shops, with extra shopping opportunities at Kate’s Upstate, Tin Bin Alley and All About The Girls.
“Kate Lanza at Kate’s Upstate has done pop-ups before with Natalie Wrubleski’s Champagne Hippy and Karen Katz jewelry,” said Bergene. “We worked with the downtown businesses to make a weekend of shopping.”
But it’s not just the adults who can have fun. “We wanted to bring back the event for all types of people,” she said.
For kids, there’s a “Meet the Heroes” event, where they can meet fire fighters and see the fire trucks, as well as a “Storytime with Frosty” at the Village Library.
The Carnival is also partnering with the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and The Farmers Museum to host activities for families in Pioneer Park.
“It’s my first Winter Carnival!” said Tara Burke, executive director. “We brainstormed with the carnival committee and they were looking for some more family-friendly activities. We were happy to help out.”
Kids can make their own bejeweled snowflakes. “Paint could freeze, so we got markers and jewel stickers,” said Burke.
JV and Varsity Baseball teams will host a wiffle ball home-run derby – yes, in the snow! – to raise money for their spring training camp, and the Susquehanna SPCA will host a Brooks chicken barbecue at the Christ Episcopal Church Parish Hall.
With farmers, butchers, employees and friends alongside, Carrie and Doug Thompson cut the ribbon on their new business venture, Tthe Green Cow, as Steve Grubb and Brian Fassett, who work on the farm, hold the ribbon. The butcher shop, at 21 Railroad Ave., Cooperstown, features grass-finished beef raised on 450 acres near Richfield Springs. “This project has been 10 years in the making,” said Doug. “It’s been a fantastic journey for myself, Carrie and our two girls. It’s so special to bring it all together.” Following the ribbon cutting, the couple invited their neighbors to stay for some hamburger sliders, cooked by Grill Master Steve Gotwald and served up by store manager Karen Slowik, at right inset. (Libby Cudmore/AllOTSEGO.com)
By LIBBY CUDMORE • The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta
COOPERSTOWN – Even before she was named executive director for the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, Tara Burke was a big fan of the business community.
“My family loves the Fly Creek Cider Mill, and we always go to brunch at The Otesaga,” she said. “My brother is a big fan of ‘Game of Thrones,’ so we always have to go by Brewery Ommegang and get beer for him.”
COOPERSTOWN – Tara Burke, director of communications and program development for the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce in Elmira, has been selected at Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce executive director, effective April 8, it was announced today.
She plans to attend the annual meeting on March 28 at Brewery Ommegang, so members will get a first chance to meet her then.