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Ellsworth Chamber bestows 'Best of 2019' awards

Kaufhold's Kurds Director of Plant Operations Randy Pfab accepts the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year Award from Becky Beissel on behalf of Kaufhold's Kurds. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 12
Buena Farrell of Buena Farrell Photography accepts the "Best of 2019" Professional Service award from Chamber Past President Peggy Nelson at the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce annual dinner Monday, Feb. 18. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 12
Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce Executive Team Member Kim Beebe (right) congratulates Kayleen Jakes on her Small Business of the Year win for Brush Strokes Paint Party & Art Supply. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 12
This white chocolate, chocolate chip, chocolate fudge and buttercream cake from BoJo's Creations brought in $900 at the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce annual dessert auction Monday, Feb. 18. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 12
Kayleen Jakes of Brush Strokes Paint Party & Art Supply thanks Ellsworth Chamber dinner attendees for "shopping local, shopping small" as she accepts the Small Business of the Year award on Monday, Feb. 18. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 12
Ellsworth Village Board President Jerry DeWolfe receives a standing ovation Monday, Feb. 18, when is named the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce Community Leader of the Year. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia6 / 12
Sue Hinck accepts the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce "Best of 2019" Non-Profit Organization honor from Chamber Vice President Russ Korpela on behalf of the Ellsworth School District Foundation. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia7 / 12
Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce President Paul Bauer (right) congratulates Ellsworth Village Board President Jerry DeWolfe on his Community Leader Award at the Ellsworth Chamber's annual dinner Monday, Feb. 18 at Kilkarney Hills in River Falls. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia8 / 12
Bob Kubes cuts into a cake that he bid $900 for and won. The money is donated to the Ellsworth Chamber. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia9 / 12
Russ Korpela and Common Man Tap & Table staff were pleased to accept the Ellsworth Chamber "Best of 2019" Restaurant/Bar/Tavern award at the annual Ellsworth Chamber dinner Monday, Feb. 18, from Chamber Board Member Greg Bernard. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia10 / 12
Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery took home the Ellsworth Chamber "Best of 2019" Tourism/Destination award Monday, Feb. 18. CEO Paul Bauer is surrounded by Creamery staff. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia11 / 12
Dave Greeley and Bev Greeley of Reuvers' Nursery accept the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce "Best of 2019" Professional Home Service award from Barry Cain on Monday, Feb. 18. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia12 / 12

As Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce Board President Paul Bauer listed the attributes of the 2019 Community Leader Award winner Monday, Feb. 18 at the chamber's annual dinner, heads started slowly turning toward the recipient as they recognized his contributions.

When Ellsworth Village Board President Jerry DeWolfe stood to accept his surprise award, he became momentarily choked up as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bauer lauded DeWolfe's "ability to solve problems with a cup of coffee," his long career as a lineman with Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services, his service as a volunteer firefighter (holding the roles of chief and assistant fire chief over his tenure), 32 years of service on the village board, many of those as president, and his presence at nearly every community event.

Many chuckled when Bauer said he was proud when he witnessed DeWolfe "personally chastise the DOT."

As DeWolfe held his crystal award, he reiterated his dedication to furthering Ellsworth's economic development and quality of life for all residents.

Small Business of the Year

Kayleen Jakes took home the honor for Small Business of the Year with Brush Strokes Paint Party & Art Supply.

"We credit Brush Strokes Paint Party & Art Supply with bringing art back to Ellsworth," the Chamber program said. "Since 2014 Brush Strokes Paint Party has been engaging community residents in a fun learning experience and helping them to get in touch with their creative sides."

Jakes' business model began as a virtual-based business, but she opened a physical location in Ellsworth's East End in 2018.

"At a time when many communities are finding retailers closing their doors, Brush Strokes is proving that retail isn't dead," the program read.

Jakes encouraged attendees to "shop local, shop small" as she accepted her award.

Large Business of the Year

Kaufhold's Kurds, the Ellsworth Chamber's Large Business of the Year, is described as "a true hometown success story."

John Kauhold and Scott Kaufhold began the business in 1995 with the creation of their famous breaded white cheddar cheese curds. In 2018 the company completed its second expansion in 23 years, building a new production facility in East End Industrial Park.

When relocating, they played an "instrumental role in assisting the Hunger Prevention Council—the local food pantry—find a new home in their vacant west Ellsworth building," the Chamber program said.

Director of Plant Operation Randy Pfab accepted the award on the company's behalf.

"We are looking forward to hiring locally and supporting the local community," Pfab said.

'Best of' Awards

The fourth annual "Best of" Awards garnered thousands of community votes in two rounds of voting. The winners for 2019 are:

Best New Business: East End Gifts (Kayleen Jakes and CJ Young)

Best Restaurant/Bar/Tavern: Common Man Tap & Table (Russ Korpela)

Best Tourism/Destination: Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery

Best Health & Wellness: Country Fit Nutrition (CJ Young)

Best Professional Home Service: Reuvers' Nursery

Best Professional Service: Buena Farrell Photography

Best Non-Profit Organization: Ellsworth School District Foundation

Best Customer Service: Ellsworth Area Ambulance Service

Chamber update

Ellsworth Chamber Executive Team Member Becky Beissel said one of the main focuses for 2019 is "working on shifting the perception of Ellsworth." The consensus is the village does not want to be known as "just Ellsworth," which Beissel called a "misperception or really a misunderstanding."

Droves of people are visiting Ellsworth for day-trip experiences from the Twin Cities, including stops at Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Vino in the Valley and other local businesses on their itinerary, Beissel said. The Chamber also plans to build on last year's momentous Cheese Curd Festival turnout, which provided a $2.55 million economic impact to the region.

Bauer promised a bigger and better Cheese Curd Festival, with more frying stations, more people setting up and taking down, and more food and beverages.

Other "Chamber wins" he highlighted were the community collaboration that brought the Ellsworth Farmers Market in 2018, the Christmas celebration in East End Park and Design Ellsworth.

"It's growing ... it's only here if you show up," he said.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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