Jun. 23—Madison area residents got the chance to visit with one another and become better acquainted with hometown businesses during the 2022 Madison Community Social.
The event took place from 5 to 8 p.m. June 22 in Madison Village Park, located at West Main and River streets in the community's downtown.
"It's a beautiful night, we've got really good music and everybody seems happy," said Madison Village Administrator Dwayne Bailey, summing up his observations from the first hour of the gathering.
Madison Village has been sponsoring the annual community social for about the past 10 years. The event features area businesses that set up booths throughout the park and share information about their products and services.
Twenty exhibitors signed up for the 2022 Madison Community Social, which matched the number of participants on last year's roster.
"We still haven't recovered fully from the pandemic," Bailey said. "The last year before the pandemic (2019) we had 40, and things were really growing by leaps and bounds."
However, Bailey is optimistic the lineup of exhibitors for the event will become larger in the future.
"We have a lot of new businesses in the Madison area that aren't aware that (the community social) is kind of a longstanding tradition here," Bailey said. "So as we bring them in one at a time, the word spreads."
Organizers of the Madison Community Social enticed visitors to stop by all 20 booths at the event by issuing "passports" to anyone who was interested.
When visitors arrived at each booth, they could ask to have their passports stamped. When stamps were obtained from all vendors, visitors turned in their passports at the Madison Village booth to receive a ticket for a raffle prize drawing.
"Then at the end of the evening, we have probably, I'd say, about 50 prizes to give away," Bailey said. "And it's always an exciting thing."
Owners or employees of businesses who staffed the booths said they enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with potential or established customers in a relaxed setting.
Joanie Keehn, a licensed insurance agent for Health Markets, said she sets up a booth every year at the Madison Community Social.
Keehn, whose office is based at 3104 Hubbard Road in Madison Village, said the event is a great way to connect with the community.
"I love playing with the kids, spending time with the parents and the grandparents, and being able to help people without having them feeling like they're obligated," she said.
Visitors who stopped at the booth occupied by Holiday Inn Express & Suites of Madison Village got to speak with two of the hotel's top administrators.
General Manager Sarah Retkofsky and Director of Sales Chrissy Sorber served as representatives at the community social for the hotel at 181 Water Tower Drive.
"We're here to share all about our hotel, our wine tours and giving back to the community," Retkofsky said.
Madison Village resident Jim Slike said the community social provides a prime opportunity to meet the people who work hard to make area businesses successful.
"It's not just knowing the company; it's also knowing the people who are behind the company," he said. "It just makes you kind of more compelled to support these local businesses."
A similar opinion was expressed by Linda Fike, who also resides in Madison Village.
"I love getting to know some of the people that own the businesses," she said. "It's just fun. It's good to get out."
But the Madison Community Social wasn't all business. Many residents stopped as they strolled through the park, or sat down on benches or portable lawn chairs, to engage in conversation. Live music was performed at the park's gazebo by the band Five O'clock Somewhere.
Free food also was provided to guests who worked up an appetite at the event.
Madison Village Council and Mayor Sam Britton was responsible for the hot dogs and buns. Manning the grill for the evening were Council President Mark Vest and Councilman Robert Lee.
Meanwhile, Madison Township trustees purchased small bags of potato chips for the occasion. Those snacks were distributed by Trustee Board Chairman Kenneth Gauntner Jr. and township Administrator Tim Brown.