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Chamber, CVB welcome new residents, fall season

By Staff | Oct 9, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Chris and Carla Haugen, Minot, give their cat, Toby, a chance to exercise in the park near the Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau kiosk. Carla Haugen said they enjoy visiting Rugby and are considering a move to the area.

The Rugby Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors’ Bureau are extending a welcome to new residents, locals and visitors this fall with activities and gift bags.

Chamber and CVB Executive Director Laurie Odden said she’s been working with local businesses and clubs to put together welcome bags for new residents. The bags will include items such as pens, coupons, business cards and more to help newcomers get acquainted with the community.

“This is something that I’ve wanted to do since I started here,” Odden said of the welcome bag project. “Last summer after I started, there were a few people who stopped me and said, ‘I’m new in town and I don’t know of anything that’s going on. I don’t know what businesses there are here.’ So, I thought, ‘I’ve got to do this.'”

“I know there used to be a welcome wagon (in Rugby),” Odden said. “In the back of my mind I knew this was something I needed to do but I needed to put a little thought into it so we didn’t miss people.”

“So, I’m working with the city. The city will help me when they get lists of new residents,” Odden said. “Galen Mack has offered to help me through his office.”

The lists would come from the names of new utility customers and other sources.

“I’ve gotten a pretty good response from local businesses so far from people who want to put things in the welcome bags,” Odden said “I’m just looking for anything, whether it’s a business card or something to let people know what your business is and where your business is located, to a pen or a coupon maybe. Maybe something to get someone into your business. Give them five percent off for a purchase for the day. I’m just looking for fun and creative things to do.”

“I’ve been visiting with Pastor Gary of Christ Community Church,” Odden added. “And he was telling me this was something he wanted to get his church onboard to do.”

Odden said the message the bags will send will be simple: “Just – welcome. Welcome to our community. Here’s what we’ve got going on. Here’s a list of businesses and places to go and activities. I’m still working on a list of activities for kids to get involved in. So, it’s a work in progress.”

“Hopefully, by the first part of November, we can have everything together and can take that list and catch up on the number of people who have moved here and keep things moving.”

The chamber and CVB are also inviting visitors and locals to welcome fall in downtown Rugby Thursday, Oct. 14 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Rugby’s Fall Fun Night will include hayrides and other fall-themed activities, according to Odden.

“We’ll be closing off a little bit of the street for that,” Odden said. “The Rugby Jaycees will be sponsoring a bouncy house. The Rugby High School FFA has volunteered to come out and help us. We’ll have some fire pits and make s’mores as an official end of summer. We’ll be working with Mr. (Kasey) Okke and Ms. (Kristi) Tonnessen to put together some fun things to do.”

“Dave Bednarz has offered to get a trailer and put some hay on it for hayrides,” Odden added. “We have a food truck coming from Minot – Momma Mac’s Kitchen. Rockin’ Relics is planning to be open later that evening. We’re doing some pumpkin games. We’re planning a pumpkin ring toss and you might win a pumpkin after that. It’s been fun to plan.”

Odden said there would be no admission charge for the event. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to come downtown and celebrate fall,” she said. “Kids can stop by for a little bit when they get out of school before they go to the volleyball game and our regular businesses will be open downtown as well. We want to encourage everyone to shop Rugby.”

Odden said the chamber and CVB have been making plans for Christmas, too, even in early fall.

“There are so many things, with shipping and supply issues, you’re going to have to get out and shop early,” Odden said, adding, “As much as I’m not ready to start thinking about Christmas shopping, I think we’re going to need to.”

“We have a lot of things coming up. Christmas in a Small Town will be happening the first weekend in November. It will be November 4th, 5th and 6th, that weekend.”

Odden said the chamber would bring back their popular scratch and win card promotion, which offers shoppers a chance to win prizes from local businesses. “That will start Black Friday,” Odden noted.

“We also have our Parade of Lights scheduled November 27,” Odden added. “So, we have a lot of things going on to kick of the holiday season as well. We just want to remind everybody to shop local, support our businesses and that’s what we need right now. We need to get through another holiday season and show how much we appreciate them.”

Odden said COVID-related supply chain issues have not only hit large retailers, but small local stores as well. She offered advice to early Christmas shoppers: “If you’re in a store and you see something you like, you should buy it. The small stores are having the same problem as the big box stores with (merchandise). You might place an order for 20 of one item and you maybe get five of them.”

“Our businesses here in town do a great job of giving us good variety and I think we need to be here to support them,” Odden added. “If you can’t find what you want here, we have gift cards. You can always support local restaurants and our motels. You can support them as well through gift cards.”

“We have our Rugby Bucks program here, also,” Odden said. “People always think of them around the holiday season, but Rugby Bucks are something we have continuously. They’re good all year. They’re available to be used at any chamber business.”

Odden said during homecoming week, “One of the class reunions came and bought some Rugby Bucks. They were playing bingo and they needed prizes and said, ‘We want to give Rugby Bucks.’ So, it’s good that people remember that’s going on and it’s a good way to shop local and keep money in the community.”

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