MERIDEN — After 18 months of shutdowns and uncertainty, the Midstate Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 125th anniversary while recognizing leadership during the pandemic.
The 125th Anniversary Dinner and Awards event is expected to draw more than 300 people Saturday at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. The event was cancelled last year because of the pandemic, and organizers made an extra effort this year to recognize chamber members.
“All members, past, present and future, will be celebrated at the 125th Anniversary Affair, and the Awards Committee has recommended additional awards to recognize exceptional leadership amidst the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to a statement announcing the event. “The Midstate Chamber is greatly appreciative of all nominees submitted and those that assisted our community during such a difficult time.
The Midstate Chamber solicited nominations from members and selected nine honorees to receive the COVID-19 Leadership Heroes Award.
The 2021 COVID-19 Leadership Heroes Award winners are: Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, MidState Medical Center, Community Health Center, Meriden Health & Human Services Department, United Way of Meriden & Wallingford, B.C. Bailey Funeral Home, Beecher & Bennett Funeral Service, John J. Ferry & Sons Funeral Home, and Meriden Memorial Funeral Home.
Because the chamber did not have an event last year, it will present its 24th annual business leadership awards for 2020. The Large Business Leadership Award winners are the Russell Hall Co., and Aqua Turf Club.
V. Czapiga & Son is the 19th Annual Small Business Leadership Award winner for 2020, and former state Rep. Emil “Buddy” Altobello will be honored with the 28th Community Partnership Award.
Seven years ago, the Midstate Chamber began honoring enterprises with its Special Achievement in Innovation Award. The 2020 award will be presented to Meriden Farmer’s Market.
That same year, it also began recognizing local school officials for their contributions to education. This year’s Excellence in Education Award winner is Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education and past Commissioner of Education for the state of Connecticut. Cardona is a Wilcox Technical High School graduate who taught in Meriden Public Schools before becoming a principal and associate superintendent,