UNION PIER — An eventful Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce Mixertook place May 16 at the Union Pier St. Julian Winery tasting room, 9145 Union Pier Road (co-hosted by Skip’s Restaurant and Catering).

Kim Wendt of the Chamber had a lot of introductions to make including new and prospective members in attendance such as —

Introduced Buchanan Chamber President Jerry Flenar; Sam Darrigrand, the new general manager of the Lakeside Inn; prospective members Cindy Fieldling, Pam Bower, Carolyn O’Hearn of Fusion Gallery and Studio at the Monogram Center in Bridgman; Thomas Pauley of the soon-to-open A Drawing Room studio and gallery at 9 North Elm St. in Three Oaks (a Chamber ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 4 p.m. Friday, May 31); Peter Cook from Automation Design and Entertainment; Ashley Cordova, Alissa Johns, Valerie Freyeberger and Amy Freyeberger (partners in Bell Mare Wedding and Events — a barn undergoing renovations in downtown Galien); Karol Behrle, Cyndi Roberts and Stacey Carlin of Honor Credit Union.

She also mentioned Dustin and Terry Harvey and Ben and Bonnie Clyborn of the New Buffalo Beach Club and Neal Cooper of Cooper’s Corner.

Sherrie Waddle Cummings of St. Julian welcomed everyone to the new patio which opened in August of 2018.

She called the St. Julian Wine Club, which offers a complementary free tasting for both a member and up to three friends every day “the best kept secret in Harbor Country.” Special events and sales also are open to club members.

She also said that the tasting room will have live entertainment every other Sunday starting June 2.

Apollo Braganini, introduced as the future company president of St. Julian, said his great grandfather founded the winery in 1921, which today is the oldest, largest and most awarded winery in Michigan, (and as Sherrie also noted, one of the only ones that uses all Michigan-grown grapes).

Braganini said the grapes come from within 45 to 50 miles of the main winery in Paw Paw, and all of the fruits used by St. Julian also are sourced from the state.

He said two new tasting rooms have been recently opened (in Rockford and another in Troy).

Rhonda Sobecki of Skip’s said 2019 marks the restaurant’s 45th year, calling it “the oldest, longest-running business owned by the same family” in Harbor Country.

“We’re very proud of that,” she added.

Sobecki also announced that the 11th season of the European Outdoor Farmers Market as Skip’s was slated to begin on the weekend of May 18 and 19 (the Sunday date was cancelled due to inclement weather). Future markets take place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through mid-October.

“We have some brand-new vendors this year (along with those who have been with her since 2009) and we are doing amazing things that are going for charity like Defender Collars, a mother-daughter team that make dog collars, dog treats … and they give back all the money to veterans,” she said.

Chamber Board Chair Cathi Rogers announced that Kim Wendt will be Member Services Director going forward and Emily Hojara will serve as the full-time office manager.

Wendt said she will be responsible for member services, communicating on Chamber activities and providing information on new members and prospective members.

“I still will be out among all of the businesses running special events. I also will be compiling some of the reports … to the board that I wasn’t in charge of before.”

Wendt said Hojara will compile the monthly newsletter, do the bookkeeping and run the office full-time.

Rogers also said the board has been working hard on a three-year strategic plan which includes re-evaluating the organization’s marketing plan and the opportunities provided to members.

“We’re going to be taking a financial look at reinvesting in some of our programs,” she added.

Colleen Dooley of Dooley’s Lake House Pub announced that bean bag tournaments will take place every Sunday though the summer (except on Memorial Day weekend).

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