The Marion-Hillsboro football rivalry burned as hot as ever on the field and in the stands of Warrior Stadium on Friday, but the warmth generated at the southwest corner of the field came from good will and hot apple cider.
Marion Chamber of Commerce and Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce jointly sponsored a hospitality tent, where members dispensed steaming cups of cider and sold raffle tickets to raise money for the booster clubs of each school.
“They contacted us earlier this year and said let’s think about what we can do to get the communities together,” Marion chamber president Don Noller said.
“We thought let’s do a hospitality tent, and let’s have Chris Meierhoff make the rocks and raffle them off.”
The rocks were stones cut and painted with the names and mascots of each school. Contestants paid a dollar for a chance at winning the stones.
“It went really well, the people were really receptive,” Hillsboro chamber president Cynthia Fleming said. “It was fun working with Marion chamber people and talking with people from both communities.”
“We really appreciate Hillsboro coming over and sitting in the booth with us. Hopefully people noticed,” Noller said.
Noller admitted the atmosphere had a little competitive spirit.
“There was some cheering from the tent,” Noller said, “but other than that it was friendly. They were good sports.”
The raffle raised $235 in donations for the Marion Boosters, and $157 for the Hillsboro Booster Club.
“Marion beat us by quite a bit, but we figured they would on their home turf,” Fleming said. “We wanted to promote the booster clubs as opposed to promoting the chambers.”
“It was something to get the ball rolling,” Noller said. “Small as it was, it was successful, and that’s a good start.”
Both leaders are interested in exploring other opportunities involving both chambers that would benefit both communities.
“It will help all of us to work together,” Fleming said. “In Hillsboro and Marion there are great people, so let’s take advantage of that.”
The groups have discussed having a joint annual meeting, which would make it possible to pool resources to bring in a noted speaker.
“We’ve met two different times,” Noller said. “The next event may be an annual joint meeting. With no budget for an annual meeting, we’re having to fall to the good graces of politicians for high-profile speakers, so we haven’t had one for a couple of years.”
“We talked about doing a joint annual meeting to bring people together,” Fleming said. “It’s hard to bring in a speaker for a small group.”
Noller indicated joint activities that would bring people and businesses to Marion County would benefit Marion.
“We’re trying to make things happen,” Noller said of the Marion chamber. “We’re here to promote Marion and hopefully to what we can to boost the economy.”
“It will help all of us to work together and possibly bring people to Marion County that would hit both places,” Fleming said. She mentioned joint advertising of events such as Marion’s Art in the Park and Hillsboro’s Arts and Crafts Fair as a possible future topic of discussion for the chambers.
Fleming acknowledged the idea of more collaboration between the two communities is one that will need to be nurtured.
“It takes awhile to get used to,” Fleming said. ““I thought it was a big success. I hope we can do more together.”