By Trevor McDonald
HANNIBAL — The Hannibal Area Chamber Commerce “Hannibal's Finer Things” fundraising event showcased local businesses' foods and other contributions Thursday at the Mark Twain Museum — bringing people together to make a positive impact in America's Hometown.
McKenzie Disselhorst, Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the event helps raise funds for future community development projects while opening the door for networking among representatives from businesses and organizations. Various restaurants offered homemade appetizers, and local businesses sponsored wine and whiskey tasting sessions and donated items for live and silent auctions for members of the crowd that filled the museum.
“That's what we're really excited about, just providing an experience that's a little bit different and outside the norm of what people usually can get here in our community,” Disselhorst said.
She said the “relaxed and fun atmosphere” encouraged business representatives to network with one another, bolstering the local business atmosphere as a whole. She said the money raised will help the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce move forward with community development projects in the future — and she hoped that the networking opportunities would further those efforts between businesses.
“We really appreciate the support that we get from our Chamber members, and we have a really great team of Chamber ambassadors that have helped us plan this,” Disselhorst said. “We couldn't do any of the work we do without that group — so a big shout out to them.”
Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce ambassador Mary Gibbons talked with Mel Campbell, owner of Fiddlestiks and MiMi's Coffee House and Ice Cream. Gibbons expressed her appreciation for everyone who attended the event as she enjoyed one of Campbell's stuffed mushrooms.
“We have such community support — both from the folks who provide the food, and from those who provide the auction items,” Gibbons said. “This is our last event for the year, and we certainly appreciate ending the year on a high note. And we appreciate the Mark Twain Museum for providing the venue for us.”
Melissa Cummins, event coordinator with the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, said “Hannibal's Finer Things” was an ideal fit for its second year at the museum.
“The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum is really
honored to have the Hannibal Chamber of Commerce host their event here,” Cummins said. “We're just really glad that they chose us again to come back. The food is amazing — there are so many restaurants that have brought appetizers here — and it's just a wonderful event.”
Sara Malone, crew member at Saints Avenue Steakhouse and Buffet, served bourbon chicken she prepared and made to visitors.
“I'm really happy how it turned out,” Malone said. “It seem like this is a pretty big event going on. I'm glad to be a part of it.”
Allan Atkins, with Independent's Service, enjoyed a plate of bourbon chicken and said he already was having a fun time from the moment he walked in the door.
“There's a lot of good food and familiar faces,” he said. The booths included chocolate dipped fruits made by County Market produce manager Melinda Buckman and her assistant, Paula Brocaille. Next to them, Riverside Restaurant owner/operator Tammy Riley and Carol Hussong served homemade ravioli and bread. She said “it's an honor” to be a part of the event and help support Hannibal.
Just across the room, a table featured donated items for the live auction, including photos of the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse and the Mark Twain Riverboat from Flying Squirrel Aerial Optics, a two-hour ride on the multiple-passenger “Hayburner” from CoolByke and a bracelet from Crescent Jewelry Company. Anna Lemon was the winning bidder for the bracelet that caught her eye, and she was happy to help support Hannibal and its businesses.
Dale DeLaPorte conducted the live auction and echoed the joyous sentiments of colleagues and friends.
“It's a pleasure to come and work for the Chamber and assist them in raising some funds in a fun way,” he said.