Crooked Tree, other business leaders, honored at Petoskey Breakfast for Champions

PETOSKEY – The Crooked Tree Arts Center received the Chairman’s Award at the Breakfast for Champions ceremony on Tuesday.

Widely recognized as the top honor at the Petoskey Chamber of Commerce’s annual event, this award is presented for “Long-Term, Significant Community Impact” and was presented to individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the year for the past 30 years at the ceremony took place.

“Crooked Tree Arts Center is so much more than a collection of galleries, classrooms, studios and stages,” said Megan Dewindt, president of the arts center. “Crooked Tree is a community and an arts heartbeat in Northern Michigan.”

In accepting the award, Crooked Tree Chairman Joe Kimmel highlighted not only the artistic and cultural aspects of the arts center’s community impact, but also the economic and commercial aspects. He said working at the arts center was similar to doing a small business in town, pointing to the importance of a thriving arts community to a region’s economic health.

“The award means more than an art organization, in particular it comes from the chamber,” he said. “But I think Crooked Tree is more than that. … I think Crooked Tree has become a vibrant part of the Petoskey and now Traverse City areas over the past 50 years, and I think this award recognizes that. ”

The event, which was planned to be an evening event this year, was held at the Great Lakes Center for the Arts. In the past few years it happened at Odawa Casino.

Participants had the option to participate in person or virtually, and those who did in person were asked to wear masks.

Chamber President Nikki Devitt said she expected a return to normal after last year, which was also scheduled for the evening but was 100% virtual, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic required the chamber to be flexible in its planning , even up to the week before.

“Normal is not the goal,” she said. “The goal is to move forward no matter what.”

The Athena Award, another prestigious award that recognizes “a person who recognizes the potential of all women as valued members and community leaders,” went to Ashley Whitney of Harbor / Brenn Insurance earlier this year.

Whitney said when the award broke that evening she turned to her fiancé and said she would like to receive it in 10 or 20 years.

“This is what appeals to me the most … so when you got to the second paragraph and realized it was me – I can’t speak,” she said.

Other awards that night included the Thriving Petoskey Award, which went to Bob and Mary Keedy of Roast and Toast; The Ambassador of the Year Award went to Regina Patton of Citizens National Bank; the Service Excellence Award, which went to Northern Express; the Entrepreneur Award, which went to Keep it Real Social’s Summer Poquette; and the Community Enthusiast Award, which went to Brian Wagner, a councilor who is also involved in a variety of community organizations.

“I’m even more impressed with this fellowship than I was last year,” said Devitt. “Our companies have continued to define what it means to be strong at Petoskey and, as your chamber, we are so proud … to be by our side.”

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