Chamber Dinner


In January 2015, a great event was born: the annual chamber dinner. The goal was to raise funds for the Little River Area Chamber of Commerce with the purpose of enhancing local businesses and the community. What it has become is the embodiment of what the community is all about: support for family, friends and neighbors, in good times and bad.


The 2019 5th Annual Little River Chamber Dinner was a great success! Not only was it our 5th year to put on this event, we also had our biggest attendance yet! Kipp Cordell, MC for the evening, started us out with Billy Joel’s Piano Man, but with a Little River twist. The delicious Martinelli’s catered dinner that was enjoyed until the main event of the night, The Murder Mystery. It was a race against time for each table to try and find the killer! The silent and live auctions were a huge hit, as always, and our Crown Royal bottle/gun raffle brought in money for yet another special cause. This year, it was decided to use that money to start a high school scholarship fund! One of our 2020 graduates will receive the first Little River Chamber Scholarship! A huge thank you to all of our donors, and our planning committee, for making this event happen every year!


Flappers and gangstas took over the 2018 Annual Dinner. Once again, over 100 people showed up to attend the Gatsby themed fundraiser. One of the most entertaining dinners to date included a few outgoing guests acting out silent movie clips, which provided a ton of laughs! Guest speaker Marci Penner, author of several Kansas Guidebooks, enlightened everyone on how much the state, especially  small towns, has to offer.

This year the money from the Crown Royal bottles/gun auction was dedicated to providing the elementary school a much-needed new sound system for its gymnasium. The always entertaining MC, Kipp Cordell, made sure the silent auction, live auction and 50/50 raffle were enjoyed by everyone. For the first time, the Lions Club presented its annual Citizen of the Year Award at the Chamber Dinner. This year the City Council was the recipient for all of its hard work on the Main Street and Kansas Avenue renovation project. This event wouldn’t be possible without the support of the planning committee, the people who donate auction items and everyone in attendance.


The Third Annual Little River Area Chamber Dinner had a Mardi Gras theme and was such a fun night! Over 100 guests feasted on New Orleans style food catered by local bar and grill, Oliver’s. The money from this year’s Crown Royal/gun auction went to help support the Main Street renovation project and was earmarked for large flower pots for the sidewalks.

Guests enjoyed a night of silent auction, live auction, giveaways, trivia and, as always, the popular Supermarket Sweep. Closing out the evening, everyone headed to The Garden of Eden and watched this year’s lucky winner, Terri Bornholdt, race through the aisles to fill her cart with as much as possible in two short minutes. The Chamber also provided $100 to use at the meat counter! The night was a success thanks to the planning committee and everyone who attended.


While the Kentucky Derby is called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” the 2016 Little River Address with the Kentucky Derby theme was the most exiting four hours in town on March 12. Once again, business and community leaders gathered for a sold out steak dinner and raised a whopping $1,505 for Help for Hope, a special fund for friends and neighbors who face tragedies or unforeseen circumstances.

Erik Pederson, vice president of entrepreneurship for Network Kansas, presented the keynote address about the importance of community support in small towns. Emcee Kipp Cordell, dressed like a jockey, rallied the crowd throughout the evening and raced through the hall on a stick horse. There were Mint Juleps and those oh-so-famous derby hats.

The grand prize of the evening, best hat, went to Betsy Lafferty. Hers had a plume of iridescent peacock feathers and she was easy to spot all night. Jean Oswalt won the inaugural Grocery Dash. In two short minutes, she blazed down the straightaway in the Garden of Eden and grabbed $420.51 worth of groceries, including 21 pounds of sugar. Jean also received a $100 credit to the meat counter!


The inaugural event dubbed “The State of Little River” updated community members about the phenomenal work of area non-profit agencies. With only two months between the idea and folks standing in line for a steak dinner, the planning committee had to work fast! In true Little River fashion, nearly every item at the dinner was purchased from local businesses.

About 105 people – 20 percent of Little River’s population – attended the dinner where representatives from 10 agencies spoke. Emcee Kipp Cordell conducted a lively auction. Items included a flat screen TV, an amazing print by video powerhouse Matt White, founder of Rockhouse Motion, and a one-of-a-kind handcrafted cutting board by local artisan Scott White, owner of SAW Creations. The evening ended on a great note thanks to local band, Rice County Line.