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Those who complete one row diagonally, horizontally or vertically on this Chamber of Commerce bingo card have a chance to win a $50 Chamber check. The contest ends April 20. (courtesy of Lonsdale Chamber of Commerce)

The Lonsdale Chamber of Commerce started out the year preparing for Spring into Lonsdale, the first ever iteration of a community event designed to celebrate local businesses.

Despite great traction and a number of interested businesses willing to participate in the inaugural Spring into Lonsdale, the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has disrupted those plans.

Saddened by the circumstances, Chamber Executive Director Shanna Gutzke-Kupp announced Monday, March 30 that the event needed to be cancelled. She and the Chamber Board of Directors made the decision in fairness to area businesses dealing with the economic and employment side effects the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on. Gutzke-Kupp also noted the likelihood of Gov. Tim Walz’ executive order lasting past May, and said, “We just wanted to be in front of the ball.”

Apart from business participation, Spring into Lonsdale was also going to have a petting zoo, inflatables and a beer garden.

“We were really trying to make it a fun family and community event to show people what businesses are doing in town, and people were so excited,” said Gutzke-Kupp. “We’ll do it again next year.”

Other community events the Chamber of Commerce planned for 2020 are still on the calendar for later this year. Community Day is still scheduled for Aug. 8, and National Night Out, which is traditionally held in August, was rescheduled for Oct. 9 in Lonsdale.

The Chamber typically holds several lunch and learn networking events for Chamber businesses and members throughout the year. Gutzke-Kupp said the April networking event was cancelled, as it was scheduled to take place at the Villages of Lonsdale where visitors are forbidden at this time. The next networking event scheduled for June 11 remains a tentative plan.

Maintaining its purpose of engaging the community and lifting up local businesses, the Chamber of Commerce has needed to shift gears with the social distancing factor creating barriers.

“Instead of having more of these engagement events, we’re just trying to creatively come up with more events we can do virtually online — or bingo,” said Gutzke-Kupp.

Now through April 17, community members may participate in Community Bingo. The Bingo board is available to download at conta.cc/2USIss4 and contains squares that read “Tell a grocery clerk they are appreciated” or “Write three new business Yelp reviews” among other tasks that show support for businesses. Participants have a chance to win a $50 in Chamber check if they compete a line with five spaces in a row diagonal, horizontal or vertical and post a photo completing their favorite square in the comments on the Lonsdale Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. A winner will be chosen randomly and posted on Monday, April 20.

Gutzke-Kupp said the Chamber is doing its best to provide important and factual information for all small businesses in town, sharing several different loan and grant programs federally and state funded. The Chamber of Commerce website also has a COVID-19 tab, where Gutke-Kupp updates information daily. She also sends out newsletters and posts pertinent information on Facebook.

“It’s temporary; we’ll all get through it,” said Gutzke-Kupp. “There are a lot of grants and loan programs out there for small businesses. I’m super proud of the federal and state loan and financing programs out there.”

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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