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Unique partnership offers events calendar

FAIRMONT — With the internet at our fingertips, it’s pretty easy to access information. Still, being aware of all the events happening in a community may still be difficult. That’s why the Fairmont Area Community Calendar exists.

Located at www.fairmontareacalendar.com, events happening in Fairmont and surrounding communities can be found on the free site.

Creation of the calendar was a joint venture paid for by the city of Fairmont, the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce, the Convention & Visitors Bureau and Fairmont Area Schools.

“Our cohorts in other communities are envious of how we work together,” said Community Recreation and Education director Roni Dauer. “When you have school, city, Convention & Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce all working together to make this happen in this county … they just don’t think about working together. This is a big and unique partnership.”

Stephanie Busiahn, director of the local Convention & Visitors Bureau, said there had been talk about creating a calendar for many years.

“The biggest piece for us is we were seeing overlap in schedule of events like a huge wedding reception the same day as a big basketball tournament,” she said. “We were turning families away to stay at hotels in Jackson and Blue Earth. We put a really diverse committee together full of city people, school and chamber people to really sit down together and talk about it.”

Busiahn said it was Dave Paschke, former director of instruction and technology at Fairmont Area Schools, who several years ago suggested they use rSchool. rSchoolToday is a Winona-based company that puts together calendars for many schools in Minnesota. In 2014, the Fairmont Area Calendar became a pilot program that brought together the community and school.

“We have a set of guidelines that we give people that explains what they can put on the calendar,” said scheduler Kris Seifert.

A main qualification for an event is that it be all-inclusive, so acceptable events include sporting events, school/community fundraisers, citywide garage sales, live entertainment, and food and drink specials. Events such as weddings, showers, anniversaries and personal sales do not appear on the calendar.

Seifert will often pull events from newspapers and flyers to put them on the calendar, but she explained how other people can promote their events.

“If it’s a one-time event, people can actually go on the calendar and there’s a ‘submit an event’ button that they can click on,” she said. “If it’s a regular user that’s going to put things on there regularly, they can email me and we set them up as a ‘requester,’ and then we train them to schedule their events.”

Once events are submitted, they funnel through the Chamber of Commerce for approval, then through to the school. Seifert looks things over for the final OK. She noted that it is good to have two sets of eyes check on an event.

“Things keep getting tweaked,” Dauer said. “Kris comes up with great shortcuts and tricks to make sure it’s improved.”

Events can be put on the calendar as far as a year in advance, making it easy for people to plan their weeks or plan to have something to do if friends or relatives are visiting.

Busiahn said it is also good for businesses to look for big events so they can plan for staffing.

Just as the name of the site says, the calendar is not just for events happening in Fairmont but also for those in surrounding communities.

“One of the challenges is getting it used countywide,” Seifert said. “We would love to have more of the surrounding communities’ events on there. It’s meant to be countywide.”

“We have a lot of wonderful things happening in our area and we want people to know,” Dauer said.

An informational meeting about the calendar will take place 9:30-10:30 a.m. Jan. 22 in the CER room at Fairmont Elementary School.

Anyone who wants to know more about the calendar is invited to come with questions. For questions prior, contact CER at (507) 235-3141.

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