Best of Souhegan events celebrates community

HOLLIS – More than 300 members and guests came out for the 2018 Best of the Souhegan Awards Banquet to recognize local businesses and community leaders for outstanding contributions and accomplishments within the community during a Wednesday dinner and awards ceremony at the Alpine Grove Banquet Center.

Co-sponsored by The Telegraph and the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce, and its sister publication, The Cabinet, the event celebrated community and service, awarding local businesses with their “Best Of” award plaques, in categories ranging from accountants and art dealers, to wine shops and yoga studios.

“We have 100 more people than last year, even though we have less categories,” chamber Executive Director Wendy Hunt said. “Normally, we would have thought that would have impacted it, but we worked really hard to call the winners and runners-up to make sure what a big deal this was. It’s a bummer if you find out about this a week later.”

Hunt said organization members hand-delivered invitations and emailed recipients to help rally support and excitement.

“I think they really watch and gauge what’s going to happen here,” she added. “Especially, the ones who have been in it before. They don’t want to miss it. And so we really want to encourage the new businesses to say, ‘Hey, did you realize there’s this contest going on.’

We tell them to look online, to look at our website, to really make sure people know about it. Social media plays a big role.”

Communities served by the chamber include Hollis, Brookline, Amherst, Lyndeborough, Milford, Mont Vernon and Wilton, with each community represented by business owners and supporters who cheered and applauded the night’s victors.

One of the newest sponsors of the event, Bangor Savings, merged with New Hampshire’s Granite Bank in April of this year.

“We’re new to New Hampshire,” Bangor Savings Director of Consumer Banking Skip Bates said. “This is our first foray into New Hampshire. We’re 160 years old, so we do a lot of community events and we’re expanding our footprint. We did a lot of market research before we decided to do this. Bangor Savings Bank has won the JD Power Award for Best Bank in Retail Satisfaction in New England, three out of the last five years.”

Bangor Savings Bank’s Stephen Flowers echoed that sentiment, adding the financial institution’s move to the Granite State was, “an easy decision.”

The events also included a money booth, in which two lucky winners had the chance to score up to $350 dollars and raffle prizes that feature picnic adventures, mini vacations, and New England Patriots merchandise.

Heather Goodwin Headline, publisher of The Telegraph, greeted and thanked attendees, recognizing the impact on the event from sole business owners to corporations.

“The Best of Souhegan truly shows off what this area has to offer in terms of our vibrant business community,” Goodwin Henline said. “We are very fortunate to have so many strong, growing and thriving firms, both large and small, in the Souhegan Valley.”