Kenney Awards move to outdoor summer event to celebrate chamber of commerce 90 years

AUGUSTA – Any other year the countdown would be on for the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual Kenney Awards in late January.

But this year, as central Maine nears year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade organization is shifting the event from a black-clad celebration at the Augusta Civic Center to an event in full swing. air on the bank of the Kennebec River to celebrate its 90th anniversary.

Katie doherty Contribution photo

Katie Doherty, President and CEO of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the “Kenneys” will be held from 4:30 pm to 10 pm on July 15 at Mill Park in Augusta as a paid event.

“It will always be a big deal,” Doherty said. “We’re going to have a big tent, a stage and a band. And we will be adding fireworks over the river to end the night to celebrate the chamber’s 90th anniversary.

Doherty said the chamber will partner with local restaurants to provide appetizers and meals at the event to showcase their offerings to out-of-town visitors who may attend the event.

Half of the park will be reserved for parking to accommodate participants. In the past, the event has attracted over 750 people.

The last time the event took place live was in 2020.

Earlier this year, the Kenney Awards were postponed until the end of March and took place virtually. At the time, restrictions on public gatherings were still in place and the first COVID-19 vaccines were given to people 50 years of age and older.

The Kenney Nominations Committee met in December and presentations to the 2022 award winners and nominees will be made in January and February.

In past years, the winners of the Big Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year and Peter G. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Awards have been announced in advance. Attendees at the annual banquet voted by text to choose the winners of the Cynergy Young Professional Award, Community Service Award and President’s Circle Award.

While the celebration of member achievements has been an annual event for decades, the Chamber of Commerce presented the Kenney Awards in 2016 as a black tie event in a nod to awards season. This summer’s event will not be formal, but neither will it be informal.

The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in 1932, although it had existed under different names for over a decade previously, including the Augusta Chamber of Commerce.

Doherty noted that over the past nine decades, the organization has recognized that it has adapted to deal with the changes around it through reorganizations and a refocusing of its efforts.

“It’s still what we do every day, adapting completely and always,” she said.

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