Farm Fair will continue to support community PDF Print E-mail

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By Christina Chapman - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

First Midwest Bank employees, from left, Corrie Sistek, Amanda Anderson, Cheryl Tesdal and Ruth Ann Foehringer pause for a photograph while serving a meal at Farm Fair. The bank-sponsored event held during the Grundy County Corn Festival marked its 30th year during this year's festival. (Photo courtesy of First Midwest Bank)

During Corn Fest, First Midwest always sponsors the Farm Fair, which has food and activities the whole week. This year, the bank was celebrating 30 years of hosting the fair, but it was almost the last year for the event.

"We had to prioritize our promotional and advertising dollars and how they were to be spent," Tom Tesdal, the bank president, said. "If this year wasn't successful, we would not have been able to continue it."

In order to keep the tradition Grundy County families have grown to love, the bank decided to reach out to more organizations for help. Every year, the Farm Fair's proceeds are donated back into the community and, by seeking some extra help, the bank was able to earn, and therefore donate, even more.

This year, the Farm Fair raised about $10,000, which was then donated to 9 local organizations and charities, Tesdal said. Some of the new recipients this year were Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties and the Grundy County Housing Authority. 

The Grundy County Housing Authority helped serve the bank's pork chop dinner during Corn Festival week this year and, in return, received a donation.

"We are so appreciative of First Midwest Bank and their efforts," said Brent Newman, CEO of the housing authority.

Newman said the donation is being used for new equipment at Saratoga Tower, which was finished in 1977.

"A lot of the equipment has reached the end of its useful life, so when organizations like First Midwest step up to the plate and help us out in taking care of that building, it makes it so much easier for us to be able to continue our mission of serving low-income elderly and disabled residents of Grundy County," Newman said.

The Farm Fair is filled with events and activities for everyone, including traditions such as the antique tractor show, sponsored with the Grundy County Farm Bureau, and the petting zoo sponsored with the Corn Festival Committee. But new this year was the Farm Fair Draw Down and Auction, which is hoped to become a new tradition.

"They wanted to do something to help the community and we wanted to help them out with Farm Fair," said Coleen Davis, chief development officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters. "We can't even begin to thank First Midwest Bank enough for their continued generosity. They always go above and beyond for Big Brothers Big Sisters."

Davis added that all of the money donated by the bank will be used for Big Brothers Big Sisters Grundy County programs.

Tesdal hopes to continue the draw down on Saturday night of Corn Festival next year. This was the first year for the draw down, which had more than 200 people attend.

"If you look at our history, we have always helped out our local organizations, not just with monetary donations, but by sitting on their boards and being involved," Tesdal said. "It's our duty to be a part of the community."

With all of the banks employees and representatives of local organizations and businesses involved in Farm Fair, more than 100 people volunteered for the event.