What is Downtown Rhinelander Incorporated all about? I know that I had a very generic idea of the group before I became involved with it. I thought that the organization was put in place to help our downtown. They are here to keep the downtown “alive” and to help the businesses through promotion, holding a few events and supplying information to the business owners. In doing so it keeps the thought of downtown on the community and visitors mind. But I found it is so much more.
Downtown Rhinelander Inc. (DRI) is only six years old. It was formed in 2006 by a group of concerned downtown business owners who wanted to preserve the free downtown parking lots. A DRI designee still serves as a member of the city’s Parking Advisory Board, and is in part fiscally responsible for parking lots downtown.
The programs and committees within DRI are adopted from the Mainstreet USA organizational structure. There are four committees, and when we are looking for volunteers, (and we are ALWAYS looking for volunteers…hint, hint), we usually need them for the Promotion, Design, Economic Restructuring and Organization committees. These committees are the core.
Our community is able to be a part of quite a few things that DRI contributes to. The beautiful green space located by Diel Insurance on Brown Street, and the small “Triangle” area at the other end of the street are DRI projects. With the help of volunteers (there’s that word again) it is maintained to be a shining example of what can be accomplished when a group of people join together. Another visual that makes the downtown inviting and looking cared for are the flower baskets that hang from the light poles all around the city. Sponsors, along with downtown businesses, bring them to the street, and it’s DRI’s responsibility (with help of course), to keep them watered for the growing season. And finally, let’s not forget the Hodags on Parade, those giant statues that are constantly in the photographer’s lens-they are from DRI and our sponsors.
Then there are the events. Downtown Rhinelander Inc. is proud of how we are able to host a variety of events which bring in a wide variety of people throughout the year to downtown. In February, there is the Taste of Chocolate. It’s not a coincidence this is held right before Valentine’s Day. In March we help with the St. Patty’s Day Parade. May is when the Downtown Thursday Market begins, and it is actually still running through October, so please check it out. June belongs to the Car Show, which is held right on Brown Street. The 4th of July Parade is one of the community’s favorite events. As for August, first there is Redikulus Dae. This event is one that the businesses “own”. They not only offer great deals, but showcase all that they, and the downtown has to offer. DRI also runs the beverage tent at the Oneida County Fair. And new this year, and quite successful I must add, is the ATV Pull & Pub Crawl. Coming up on Oct. 27 there is the Downtown Trick or Treat from 2 to 4 p.m. On Nov. 10, DRI has what used to be called the Hodag Auction. Only this year it’s more, it’s a party and it is called the “Hodag Howl”. Please watch for more information coming out soon. Closing out the year is the Holiday Open House Nov. 16-18, and the year ends with the Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony.
I hope that I was able to give you a better understanding of Downtown Rhinelander Inc. It is a busy, responsible and important organization. Please note that it is not alone. The group partners with so many organizations, the City of Rhinelander, Chamber, ArtStart and Oneida County Economic Development, just to name a few. But our most valued relationship is with the businesses downtown. And our most valuable assets are the volunteers. From the board members, committee members to the event helpers, nothing DRI does would happen without them, and there is always room for more. If you are interested please give us a call.
Maggie Steffen is available at the Rhinelander Main Street office, located at 21A S. Brown St. Call her at (715) 362-7374, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.